• ITVI.USA
    14,004.360
    -3,108.710
    -18.2%
  • OTRI.USA
    28.310
    0.110
    0.4%
  • OTVI.USA
    13,960.270
    -3,119.130
    -18.3%
  • TLT.USA
    3.230
    0.140
    4.5%
  • TSTOPVRPM.ATLPHL
    2.630
    0.060
    2.3%
  • TSTOPVRPM.CHIATL
    3.080
    -0.090
    -2.8%
  • TSTOPVRPM.DALLAX
    1.180
    -0.060
    -4.8%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXDAL
    3.210
    -0.070
    -2.1%
  • TSTOPVRPM.PHLCHI
    1.630
    -0.090
    -5.2%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXSEA
    3.360
    0.070
    2.1%
  • WAIT.USA
    121.000
    1.000
    0.8%
  • ITVI.USA
    14,004.360
    -3,108.710
    -18.2%
  • OTRI.USA
    28.310
    0.110
    0.4%
  • OTVI.USA
    13,960.270
    -3,119.130
    -18.3%
  • TLT.USA
    3.230
    0.140
    4.5%
  • TSTOPVRPM.ATLPHL
    2.630
    0.060
    2.3%
  • TSTOPVRPM.CHIATL
    3.080
    -0.090
    -2.8%
  • TSTOPVRPM.DALLAX
    1.180
    -0.060
    -4.8%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXDAL
    3.210
    -0.070
    -2.1%
  • TSTOPVRPM.PHLCHI
    1.630
    -0.090
    -5.2%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXSEA
    3.360
    0.070
    2.1%
  • WAIT.USA
    121.000
    1.000
    0.8%
Driver issuesEconomics

Trucker rally for fair rates gets White House attention

A weekend “May Day” rally in Washington by small-business truckers claiming they are being mistreated in the freight market during the coronavirus pandemic ended with a positive message from President Donald Trump.

Trump, who spent the weekend at the president’s retreat in Camp David, Maryland, acknowledged the demonstrators parked in their trucks directly south of the White House along Constitution Avenue.

“Thanks for the meeting at the White House with my representatives from the Administration,” Trump tweeted late Sunday. “It is all going to work out well!”

Demonstration organizers are hoping that an initial meeting with administration representatives over the weekend will lead to a face-to-face meeting with the president.

“Having a White House liaison come out and meet is more progress than being on the 5 o’clock news doing a slow roll,” Rick Santiago, one of the demonstration’s organizers, told FreightWaves. “I don’t expect solutions tomorrow, but we cannot haul one more week with rates the way they are.”

Santiago and others at the rally laid much of the blame for what they consider inequitable rates at the feet of truck brokers that pressure rates downward by canceling agreed-upon loads after finding another carrier willing to haul it cheaper — or by outright lying to truckers.

“I’m hoping that what we’ve done so far — asking the [Department of Justice] to step in and investigate some of these broker scams — is going to have a butterfly effect” that results in brokers having to increase their rates through tighter regulations, Santiago said.

While the Trump administration has attempted to provide relief to small-business owners through billions of dollars distributed through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), Santiago said he knew of no truckers at the rally who had received stimulus money.

“We’re not looking for a bailout. Give us a hand up and let us get back to work. If our operating cost is $2 a mile, I can’t haul for 90 cents.”

Muller (second from left) and Santiago (right) discussing broker issues at the demonstration on May 3.
Credit: John Gallagher/FreightWaves

Darrell Muller, an owner-operator who recently moved a forklift from Las Vegas to Kansas on his flatbed truck for a less than breakeven rate of $900, found out after the delivery that the shipper had been charged $2,000. “Not all brokers lie, but this is why none of us trust them,” Muller told FreightWaves.

Records compiled quarterly by the Transportation Intermediaries Association (TIA), which represents brokers, indicate that third-party logistics companies keep 16% gross margin for their service while passing on 84% to the carrier.

Responding to charges of price gouging, “No one’s making money on this pandemic but the beer and drug industry,” TIA President and CEO Robert Voltmann told FreightWaves. 

“The smaller companies can’t collude to affect the marketplace. The problem is, the market is so competitive and so transparent that when somebody is desperate and takes a load for 50 cents, everyone else knows that. There are motor carriers that should be parking their trucks and applying for PPP loans, and we can help them with that. But there’s just not that much freight out there, and it’s going to get worse before it gets better.” 

Voltmann added that his members can’t exist without independent truckers and they can’t exist without his members. “It’s definitely a love-hate relationship.  No American family and no American business should go bankrupt because of a virus beyond our control, but unfortunately, that’s what’s happening.”

Santiago acknowledged that brokers are an important piece of the freight equation.

“I’m all for brokers. I need them every day. But right now we’re at the lowest we’ve ever been with this pandemic. If we, the brokers and carriers, can work together for fair rates, we can all, literally, make America great again.”

Tags

John Gallagher, Washington Correspondent

Based in Washington, D.C., John specializes in regulation and legislation affecting all sectors of freight transportation. He has covered rail, trucking and maritime issues since 1993 for a variety of publications based in the U.S. and the U.K. John began business reporting in 1993 at Broadcasting & Cable Magazine. He graduated from Florida State University majoring in English and business.

81 Comments

  1. Amazon is making a killing on the warehousing and distribution. That’s how they can leverage the freight rates.
    I don’t agree with it but something will have to give eventually. They mentioned earlier on when they got into this business that they thought they could cut DAT load board rates of up to 33% on some lanes.

    1. I no things will get better soon with the help of precedent I believe life will get better again,whe things get better please sir remember me am just a truck driver sir remember me sir am without a job sir or anyone ho is around please help, i need your help i have a driver skinny please sir help me.

  2. I am a very small truck company, with 3 trucks. I can’t compete with these big companies and compromise on rates the brokers are trying to pay. Their numbers are totally off. Brokers have hazard pay just for situations like this. But they pocket the hazard pay, they cut load prices in half and still take a percentage of that. Brokers are getting paid over 50% of what the drivers should be making and they are still taking a percentage of the profits. People keep forgetting that truckers especially owner operators are essential workers. If all the trucks stopped this country would parish without us. However we still get treated like the red-headed step-child. A lot of the companies practice are not fair. Especially when you are sitting hours on hours to get loaded and shippers and cosignees don’t want to pay for you time (detention, layover). TONU’s (truck order not used) are a joke. If you mess up and cancel a load I should be getting close to half of what I would have made instead of $150-$200. I have spent money on fuel to travel the miles needed to get to an appointment on time, just for me to get there and be turned around because of the shipper, cosigner, or broker mistake. That is BS. Than have to argue on the phone just to only get $150. For time lost, money spent on fuel, scales, tolls, etc. But the brokers will turn around and charge you $250 if you are late to an appointment. My company as small as it is, prides ourself on being safe and on time with loads. I know other smaller companies like mine. Where is our break and help relief against thieving brokers and companies pocketing what truckers should actually be getting paid. They do not have to leave their families for days or weeks at a time. They are not paying for fuel, scales, tolls, truck or trailer maintenance. Not forced to eat out at truck stops or store food in their trucks. On top of watching all the Looney drivers on the road, driving at all times of day or night. It’s a hard job but I love it and would love to get compensated for my worth. I am not going to even get started on the unfair practice of Amazon. That could be a book.

    1. You are spot on target with everything you stated. Bottom line is the freight being shipped is costing the same but brokers are gouging the driver and pocketing the difference. It is criminal and needs to be addressed.

      Northern Flight Logistics (small owner operators)

  3. Brokers are thrives. If they make .20 cents a load less they will just make more phone calls and recoop the loss, meanwhile their .10cents is $100 less on my truck.
    Yeah park my truck and hope for PPP.
    STOP MAKING PHONE CALLS ASKING FOR BETTER RATES. Now all the flat rate, all in, want a discount since fuel is down. Well suck it up is what I’ve been told when fuel was high so back at you.

  4. What happened to the direct freight, that the problem shippers don’t give the o\o a chance to get contracts it’s the broker that has all the power and does not use there insurance you use the carrier’s insurance and what about tires and the up keeping of the equipment the first thing they say is fuel cost went down and I never got a fuel surcharge they found a way to take from trucker and they kept at it until truck companies are force to close , how many brokerage companies was forced to close this year???

  5. I agree completely with Robert Voltmanns assessment and reply. As a member of the Brokerage community since the early 1990’s, I can tell you this issue will not go away unless or until the carrier community stops accepting the low rates being offered. This is the bad side of our open free market society that we all live in. While the imbalance is in the favor of the Shippers and Brokers the rates will stay low. Those of us with perspective know, it’s only a matter of time before the pendulum swings back the other way and the Carriers are in the position of strength.

  6. I THOUGHT I HEARD IT ALL FOR TIA JUST ANOTHER LIAR ( VOLTMANN) THE.BROKER INDUSTRY THE 3PL’S, LOGISTIC CO ALL THE
    SO CALLED NAMES ARE CROOKS BEFORE I KNOW LARGE LOGISTIC CO..S BECAUSE THEY SREWED UP AND WE GOT THE BOL
    WITH THE RATES THE THE PERCENTAGE WAS 30% THIS WAS LONG BEFORE THE PANDEMIC. WHAT EVER THE EXCUSEIS TODAY
    WE HAVE SOME BROKERS THAT THE RATE IS THE SAME. WE HAD A LOGISTICS MAN WE ALWAYS CONTACTED HE TOLD US WHEN HE MADE THE RATE KNOWN WE QUESTIONED THE 50% BELOW EARLIER THAT THE MANAGERS OF THE COMPANY STATEMENT
    THEY DID NOT CARE ABOUT BREAKING CARRIERS THEY WERE GOING TO MAKE MORE MONEY THAN EVER
    THIS ONE OF THE TOP LTL,TL,LOGISTIC CO;S

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