ATA asks FMC to investigate alleged ocean carrier discrimination
The country’s largest trucking group has filed a complaint with the Federal Maritime Commission alleging that an ocean carrier wrongfully blocked a trucking company from conducting business with it.
The American Trucking Associations’ Intermodal Motor Carrier Conference (IMCC) filed the complaint on behalf of Transport Express, which said Sinotrans Container Lines Co./Sinotrans Shipping Agency, “wrongfully terminated” the trucking company’s interchange rights, which are needed to conduct intermodal container transport under the Uniform Intermodal Interchange and Facilities Access Agreement (UIIA).
The IMCC asserts that Sinotrans’ actions violate section 10 of the fairness provisions in the 1984 Shipping Act. Section 10 prohibits an ocean carrier from unreasonably refusing to deal or negotiate, and require ocean carriers to observe just and reasonable regulations and practices related to the movement and transfer of intermodal containers or property.
“We’re seeking Federal Maritime Commission relief because abusive activities like those cited in this case are, unfortunately, all too commonplace in today’s maritime intermodal interchange regime,” said Curtis Whalen, IMCC executive director, in a statement on Tuesday.
“Regrettably, the UIIA has no dispute or enforcement mechanism, and is proving to be wholly unsatisfactory in protecting the rights, risks and obligations of motor carriers operating in the intermodal container logistics network,” Whalen said.
Attempts to reach officials from Sinotrans Shipping Agency in Long Beach, Calif., were unsuccessful.
In recent years, the IMCC, in addition to the Teamsters, has alleged that ocean carriers are abusing their antitrust immunity privileges under the Shipping Act (and the 1998 Ocean Shipping Reform Act) by forcing truckers across the board to accept less-than compensatory payments for container transport services.
Greg Stefflre, chief executive of Rail Delivery Services on behalf of the IMCC, told the Antitrust Modernization Commission on Oct. 18 about the financial stress to truckers caused by alleged uniform increases in container related fees, per diem and reduction in terminal storage-dwell times by ocean carriers.