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Air CargoAmerican ShipperBusinessNews

Freight executives give feedback to White House on economic restart

Several titans of freight transportation are part of the White House’s council of business leaders asked to provide advice on how to reopen parts of the economy after lockdowns aimed at stopping the spread of the coronavirus were put into place.

Several groups of business executives, including the transport chiefs, spoke Wednesday on a conference call with President Donald Trump, one day after he selected them. Some reportedly were surprised by the announcement, having never been privately asked to participate. The rushed meeting didn’t allow most people time to prepare. Some bank executives couldn’t participate on the calls because they had earnings to report, according to media accounts from Washington.

The transportation leaders on the economic council are: American Trucking Associations President Chris Spear; J.B. Hunt CEO and President John Roberts (trucking and intermodal); YRC Worldwide CEO Darren Hawkins (trucking); FedEx Corp. Chairman and CEO Fred Smith (parcel and logistics); UPS Chairman and CEO David Abney (parcel and logistics); United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz (airline);  Maurice J. Gallagher, Jr., Chairman and CEO of Allegiant (budget airline); and Crowley Maritime Corp. Chairman and CEO Thomas B. Crowley, Jr. (ocean shipping and logistics). 

Ever since he declared a national emergency and announced social-distancing guidelines, President Trump has publicly itched to open up society and get the economy going. More than 22 million people have filed for unemployment insurance in the past four weeks and some estimate that unemployment could soon reach 20%. Governors and mayors have actually implemented quarantines, but Trump wants to send the signal that people can return to normal activity. 

The President has expressed interest in a phased economic restart by May 1 and was scheduled to release guidelines for doing so today.

Banking, sports, agriculture and healthcare leaders told the President that they want businesses and the economy to get going again, but cautioned that people won’t feel safe until a testing regime is much more widespread to ensure that people aren’t carrying the disease and infecting others, according to the Washington Post and other news outlets. They urged the White House not to rush and to also wait until there is clear evidence of a sustained reduction in new cases.

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Eric Kulisch, Air Cargo Editor

Eric is the Air Cargo Market Editor at FreightWaves. An award-winning business journalist with extensive experience covering the logistics sector, Eric spent nearly two years as the Washington, D.C., correspondent for Automotive News, where he focused on regulatory and policy issues surrounding autonomous vehicles, mobility, fuel economy and safety. He has won two regional Gold Medals from the American Society of Business Publication Editors for government coverage and news analysis, and was voted best for feature writing and commentary in the Trade/Newsletter category by the D.C. Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. As associate editor at American Shipper Magazine for more than a decade, he wrote about trade, freight transportation and supply chains. Eric is based in Portland, Oregon. He can be reached for comments and tips at ekulisch@freightwaves.com

10 Comments

  1. Comon…these guys don’t represent the industry in reality. Get the people that represent REAL PEOPLE WORKING IN THE INDUSTRY THAT ARE UP TO THEIR NECKS IN THE SH1T AND NOT THE IVORY TOWER CROWD.

    1. Labor leaders were also included. No one is endorsing these executives, but they do head major companies with lots of workers and Trump asked them for their feedback. One can argue whether they have much to offer regarding reopening the economy, but for some reason Trump wanted to hear from them.

      1. David,I agree with you totally. Where is the representation from the third-party logistics companies?
        We also need to see companies from the small business sector.

  2. We need better protection for truck drivers and other people going back to work. Many people who want to get medical treatment in Ontario Canada but the health care system is over loaded now in Canada. Unless the health care system in Canada and the U s and Mexico get many more medical machines, masks, medicines, staffing levels thousands will die. We are seeing this in New York City and Detroit Mi. Ontario Canada is not much better after the cuts to health care in the past 2 years.

  3. Quote:

    “Several titans of freight transportation are part of the White House’s council of business leaders asked to provide advice on how to reopen parts of the economy after lockdowns aimed at stopping the spread of the coronavirus were put into place.”

    ROTFLMAO ! REALLY ???

    These guys can’t even provide their drivers with proper PARKING ! Now they’re being asked for advice on how to reopen the economy ??? ROTFLMAO !

    Trump said that he knew a lot about trucking recently when he was congratulating truckers as he gave them a key . Trump didn’t even know that class 8 trucks run on FUEL ! He didn’t know that truckers are limited through HOS !

    Trump has managed to show the world in a very short period of time that he’s a clown during this pandemic !

    Quote:

    “Several groups of business executives, including the transport chiefs, spoke Wednesday on a conference call with President Donald Trump, one day after he selected them. Some reportedly were surprised by the announcement, having never been privately asked to participate. The rushed meeting didn’t allow most people time to prepare. ”

    There ya go ! That’s Trump , he rushes through things without thinking ! That’s exactly how he’s trying to reopen the American economy , quickly and imprudently without thinking things through ! That’s why the majority of the governors told him to take a seat and let them manage their affairs on their own prudently without rushing them , just fund them properly !

    Quote :

    “leaders told the President that they want businesses and the economy to get going again, but cautioned that people won’t feel safe until a testing regime is much more widespread to ensure that people aren’t carrying the disease and infecting others”

    BINGO !

    But trump isn’t listening ! He wants to reopen the economy like if people’s welfare didn’t matter ! Thank goodness the governors put him in his place !

    Can’t wait till this guy gets the boot ! I’m more anxious about that than anything else . GET RID OF THAT CLOWN ! People deserve much better , especially during a health crisis !

    In my humble opinion ………..

    1. Keep an eye on Trump , he will stoop to the lowest level to fulfill his agenda !

      Trump encouraging chaos ! What a disgrace, LOL ! Can’t stoop any lower than that !

      Quote :

      “Trump appears to back those protesting social distancing measures

      President Trump on Friday appeared to back protesters in three states with Democratic governors who are gathering in opposition to extended stay-at-home orders and other restrictions meant to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

      One day after Trump reportedly told governors they would “call the shots” in determining when to lift social distancing guidelines in their states, Trump heightened tensions between demonstrators and the Democratic governors in Minnesota, Michigan and Virginia.

      “LIBERATE MINNESOTA!” Trump tweeted, followed quickly by a call to “LIBERATE MICHIGAN!”
      “LIBERATE VIRGINIA, and save your great 2nd Amendment. It is under siege!” Trump tweeted, a reference to the state’s expanded background checks and limits on gun purchases signed into law last week.”

      End quote .

      UNBELIEVABLE TRUMP ! UNBELIEVABLE !

      Wow what a sad president !

      In my humble opinion ……….

      1. There is nothing noble in your partisan comments. What have any Democrats done for the last three years for the trucking industry or any Industry.

  4. TRUMP WAKE UP ! TRUCKERS DON’T NEED A SILLY LITTLE KEY , THEY NEED MONEY !!! IN MY HUMBLE OPINION !

    Quote :

    Trump didn’t bail out trucking, but he did give 4 truck drivers a mysterious gold key at White House ceremony. Nobody knows why.

    “The trucking industry is on the cusp of a “freight cliff,” according to a Federal Emergency Management Agency report obtained by Politico. The rate of moving goods via truck has fallen to the lowest levels seen since 2009, Cass Information Systems said.

    Scores of truck drivers have emailed Business Insider to say that their businesses are getting cut down to the bone. The industry is largely made up of small-business owners and independent drivers, but even giants like FedEx Freight have been forced to furlough a small percentage of its drivers as the coronavirus pandemic slams the US economy.

    On April 16, President Donald Trump welcomed four truck drivers, along with American Trucking Associations President Chris Spear and Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao, to the lawn of the White House to thank drivers. 

    In lieu of announcing new policies to keep the $800 billion trucking industry intact, Trump gave each driver a mysterious gold key.
    When he was asked what the key is for, White House spokesperson Judd Deere told Business Insider, “The key was a memento from the president to the drivers to mark the occasion and to thank them for their amazing work on behalf of all Americans.”

    Deere did not respond to a question concerning the likelihood of monetary support for the trucking industry.

    “In the war against the virus, Americans truckers are the foot soldiers who are really carrying us to victory, and they are — they’ve done an incredible job,” Trump said before the four drivers spoke and received their keys.
    “We’ve had no problems. It’s been just great,” Trump added. “And we want to thank you very much. It’s really great. We have a little special award too.”

    The Trump administration has made unprecedented moves to lift several DOT regulations as the coronavirus has pushed trucking to the edge in the past month. One was the suspension of the hours-of-service law for truck drivers moving essential goods. It’s the first time the federal government has ever lifted the 82-year-old law.
    Small trucking businesses were able to gain access to the $350 billion in Small Business Association loans made available from the stimulus bill before it ran out of money.

    But many small businesses in and out of trucking may be unable to benefit from the programs in the $2 trillion stimulus bill that Trump signed into law last month. Now that the lending program has run out of cash, businesses with 500 or fewer employees are saying that they won’t be able to keep their doors open.

    Jeremy Reed, who has been a truck driver for 22 years, is one of them. He previously earned $6,500 a week — before hefty insurance, truck-maintenance, and fuel expenses — driving his own truck for air-cargo companies like FedEx and Forward Air.
    Now his gross earnings are down to $2,200 a week, and his accountant is scrambling to help him save his business. He was not able to receive SBA loans. 

    “I have put all my money and credit in this business to get it going, and I’m not going down without a fight,” Reed said. “I was hoping that the SBA was going to be a lifeline, but that’s not a reality for me.” 

    End quote .

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