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Truck drivers become key EU election issue in Bulgaria

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Eurospeed carrier company trucks parked at a parking lot in Sofia, Bulgaria, on May 8. The future of Bulgaria’s vast number of low-wage truck drivers has become a top campaign issue in the country heading into European Parliament elections, with debates raging on how new EU rules could threaten the workers and deepen divisions between rich and poor nations in the bloc. (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

SOFIA, Bulgaria — The future of Bulgaria’s vast number of low-wage truck drivers has become a top campaign issue in the country heading into European Parliament elections, with debates raging on how new EU rules could threaten the workers and deepen divisions between rich and poor nations in the bloc.

The European Commission wants to put restrictions on cargo transport to ensure adequate rest for truck drivers and limit driving distances. Bulgaria, where the transport sector accounts for 15% of GDP and employs some 200,000 people, fears it will erode its workforce’s low-cost advantage. It says it could cost jobs and force Bulgarian truckers to move to Western Europe, worsening a wealth gap within the EU.

“This package would directly deprive more than 150,000 Bulgarian families of bread and livelihood,” says Angel Dzhambazki, a former member of the European Parliament who is running in this month’s election.

The new rules concern truck drivers’ postings, driving and rest times, and access to the market. Especially worrying for Bulgarian truckers is the requirement that they spend their rest time in a hotel rather than in bunks in their trucks. The rules would also force drivers to return home every three or four weeks with an empty truck.

Dzhambazki said that the European proposal, called the Mobility Package, would cause thousands of Bulgarians to emigrate to wealthier European countries to be closer to the markets they work with. He sees the proposal as an effort by countries like France and Germany to protect their own businesses from the competition of lower-wage countries like Bulgaria.

The proposal has passed a first reading in the European Parliament, with a second approval needed for it to come into force. It has the strong backing of EU heavyweights France and Germany.

Bulgaria, which joined the European Union in 2007, will elect 17 members of the European Parliament’s 751 seats on May 26. Germany, by contrast, will provide 96. Bulgaria could seek strength in numbers, as several other countries in Eastern Europe also oppose the new EU transportation rules, but it remains an uphill battle.

“In the year of Brexit and the European elections, decisions like the Mobility Package only deepen divisions and fuel nationalist feelings in the EU member countries,” warned Madlen Kavrakova, legal advisor of Bulgaria’s union of international hauliers.

Kavrakova told the AP that denying truck drivers full access to the single European market would set a dangerous precedent and could lead to restrictions in other sectors.

“Does it mean that Europe is driving at different speeds?” she asked rhetorically.

Under the new restrictions, many Bulgarian haulage companies could be forced to relocate to countries closer to their key markets in Western Europe. That could mean the emigration of thousands of truck drivers, depriving countries like Bulgaria of an established industry.

Dimitar Rashkov, the owner of transport company Eurospeed, has managed trucks driving across the continent since 1994 and says the new rules will “separate us as people from Eastern and Western Europe, like it was once many years ago.”

Truck driver Ivan Gospodinov is convinced that Europe must be equal for all.

“Like the Germans or Italians who come to Bulgaria and feel comfortable here, we also need to feel comfortable when we go there because we are a big family,” he says. “That is what the European Union stands for.”

 

 

 

 

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Women In Trucking names its 2019 top woman-owned businesses

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Angela Eliacostas is the founder and owner of AGT Global Logistics, one of the companies the Women In Trucking Association has named its 2019 Top Women-Owned Businesses in Transportation. (Courtesy: Women in Trucking)

PLOVER, Wisc. —  The Women In Trucking Association (WIT) has announced its annual list of the “Top Woman-Owned Businesses in Transportation.”

The names of the companies being recognized in 2019 were released in the latest edition of Redefining the Road, the official magazine of WIT.

WIT created the list was created to recognize women in leadership and encourage more women to become proactive leaders in their organizations and even start their own businesses, WIT president and CEO Ellen Voie said. The program supports WIT’s overall mission “To encourage the employment of women in the trucking industry, promote their accomplishments, and minimize the obstacles they face.”

Entrepreneurship is a viable means of economic self-sufficiency, and many women are choosing an enterprise connected to transportation to be part of their career aspirations, according to Brian Everett, publisher of Redefining the Road.

Companies considered for the recognition must meet criteria that includes majority ownership by a woman, financial stability and growth, innovation and entrepreneurial spirit. Each company was nominated and chosen based upon business success and accomplishments, including those related to gender diversity.

This year’s list includes companies from a diverse range of business sectors in the commercial freight transportation marketplace, including motor carriers, third-party logistics companies and original equipment manufacturers.

Companies named to the 2019 “Top Woman-Owned Businesses” list and their primary female business owners are:

  • Bennett International Group; Marcia G. Taylor, CEO
  • Kenco Logistics; Jane Kennedy Greene, chairwoman
  • London Auto Truck Center; Donna Childers, vice president
  • Rihm Family Companies; Kari Rihm, president and CEO
  • Veriha Trucking, Inc.; Karen Smerchek, president
  • Rush Trucking Corp.; Andra Rush, CEO
  • Aria Logistics; Arelis Gutierrez, CEO
  • Lodgewood Enterprises; Arlene Gagne, president
  • S-2international, LLC; Jennifer Mead, CEO
  • International Express Trucking; Karen Duff, president and CEO
  • Brenny Transportation, Inc.; Joyce Brenny, CEO and founder
  • Knichel Logistics; Kristy Knichel, CEO
  • Garner Trucking; Sherri Garner Brumbaugh, CEO
  • LYNC Logistics; Cindy Lee, president
  • Ontario Truck Training Academy; Yvette Lagrois, president
  • AGT Global Logistics; Angela Eliacostas, owner and founder
  • Powersource Transportation; (Barb Bakos, president
  • LaunchIt Public Relations; Susan Fall, president
  • United Federal Logistics, Inc.; Jennifer Behnke, president
  • BCP Transportation; Nancy Spelsberg, Ardis Jourdan, Kristie Rozinski
  • Ladybird Logistics Ltd.; Felicia Payin Marfo, managing director
  • DGT Trucking; Donna G. Sleasman, owner
  • RFX Inc.; Kimberly Welby, president and CEO)

These companies will be recognized during a special program at the Women In Trucking Accelerate! Conference & Expo, Sept. 30 – Oct. 2 in Dallas. For more information, visit WomenInTrucking.org.

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ATA Truck Tonnage Index falls 1.1% in June, but 1.5% higher than June 2018

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Compared with June 2018, the SA index increased 1.5%, the smallest year-over-year gain since April 2017.

ARLINGTON, Va. — The American Trucking Associations’ advanced seasonally adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index decreased 1.1% in June after falling 4% in May. In June, the index equaled 115.2 (2015=100) compared with 116.5 in May.

“Tonnage continues to show resilience as it posted the 26th year-over-year increase despite falling for the second straight month sequentially,” said ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello. “The year-over-year gain was the smallest over the past two years, but the level of freight remains quite high. Tonnage is outperforming other trucking metrics as heavy freight sectors, like tank truck, are witnessing better freight levels than sectors like dry van, which has a lower average weight per load.”

May’s reading was revised up compared with our June press release.

Compared with June 2018, the SA index increased 1.5%, the smallest year-over-year gain since April 2017.

The not seasonally adjusted index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by the fleets before any seasonal adjustment, equaled 117.6 in June, 3.3% below May level (121.7). In calculating the index, 100 represents 2015.

Trucking serves as a barometer of the U.S. economy, representing 70.2% of tonnage carried by all modes of domestic freight transportation, including manufactured and retail goods. Trucks hauled 10.77 billion tons of freight in 2017. Motor carriers collected $700.1 billion, or 79.3% of total revenue earned by all transport modes.

ATA calculates the tonnage index based on surveys from its membership and has been doing so since the 1970s. This is a preliminary figure and subject to change in the final report issued around the 5th day of each month. The report includes month-to-month and year-over-year results, relevant economic comparisons, and key financial indicators.

 

 

 

 

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JK Moving modernizes moving with mobile app and virtual AI estimating options

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The JK mobile app enables clients to go onto the app to receive and review estimates; accept and edit estimates; make payments; communicate with their sales consultant and move coordinator; and prepare for the move day. (Courtesy: JK MOVING)

STERLING, Va. — JK Moving Services, a global moving, storage, relocation and logistics enterprise, says it has added new technologies to further modernize the move experience for customers, including a mobile app to help the customer manage the move process and software to do virtual estimates with either a real person or by an artificial intelligence interface.

“Great technology makes for better moves and that’s why we invest in cutting-edge solutions. Mobile apps and AI are now part of our customer tool kit,” said CEO Chuck Kuhn. “Giving clients choices in how they work with us helps us meet a variety of customer needs and styles.”

Kuhn said JK’s tech team had created a downloadable mobile app that enables clients to go onto the app to receive and review estimates; accept and edit estimates; make payments; communicate with their sales consultant and move coordinator; and prepare for the move day. The app is monitored 24/7 by the JK team.

Since this custom app was developed in-house, JK is able to incorporate feedback and improvements quickly, Kuhn said, adding that the mobile app complements new estimating software that clients can use to get a virtual estimate.

The client gives a tour of their house with their phone to their choice of a real or AI representative. The AI estimating software recognizes shapes of objects and makes an inventory list. From that tour, JK can provide an estimate and send it to the mobile app. Estimators still are available to come to someone’s house if that is what the client prefers.

“Going mobile improves our customer offerings since many clients want products that are seamless, easy and quick. We’re receiving terrific feedback for our new mobile app and virtual estimating. These tech advancements put us at the forefront of the residential moving business,” said David Cox, executive vice president, residential, JK Moving.

Cox said the mobile app also reduces the use of paper, which is good for the environment. Environmental stewardship is part of the JK culture and a consideration in many of the company’s innovations.

“In fact, JK was one of the first on many environmentally friendly practices, including: ordering Tesla semi moving trucks, embracing new technologies that will further its aggressive carbon emissions-reduction goals, leading with box-less moves and major recycling efforts, and starting a chemical free community farm,” he said.

Another recent modernization includes the addition of dashcam technology in its whole fleet. These cameras are installed in the truck cabs. When a trigger event happens, such as a sudden stop or jostling movement, a 12-second video clip gets sent to DriveCam, a third-party vendor that monitors and evaluates the incidents. DriveCam sends JK feedback when opportunities arise to improve driving behaviors, enabling JK to provide customized training to drivers. The dashcams have resulted in employees improving their driving skills and experiencing fewer triggering events, resulting in fewer accidents and a reduction in claims.

 

 

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