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U.S. Supreme Court rules carriers can’t force independent contractors into arbitration

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©2919 Fotosearch In its decision, the Supreme Court agreed with a lower court ruling that said under the Act, transportation workers included owner-operators as well as employees.

In a unanimous 8-0 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that trucking carriers can’t force independent contractors into arbitration.

In New Prime Inc. v. Oliveira, the court ruled January 15 that when contracts include mandatory arbitration clauses, drivers still have the right to seek court oversight to determine if such employment falls within the exceptions outlined in the 1925 Federal Arbitration Act related to employees involved in interstate commerce, and that these protections apply to both those classified as employees and as independent contractors.

In an arbitration, the parties give up the right to an appeal on substantive grounds to a court.

The Supreme Court sided with New Prime Inc. owner-operator Dominic Oliveira, who sued New Prime in a class action alleging that he and other drivers classified as independent contractors were really employees and as such, were being underpaid.

New Prime attorneys argued that Oliveira was prohibited from suing because as an independent contractor he signed an arbitration clause in which he agreed not to sue the company and instead reach an agreement through arbitration. He first filed the class action suit in 2015.

The Arbitration Act grants an exemption to transportation workers, and the high court held that Oliveira was included in that exemption.

In its decision, the court agreed with a First Circuit Court ruling that said under the Act, transportation workers included owner-operators as well as employees.

The high court did not, however, rule whether Oliveira was misclassified as an owner-operator rather than an employee, only that he was free to pursue his original lawsuit and have his day in court.

That leaves the question of misclassification for yet another round of lawsuits.

The American Trucking Associations protested the ruling, maintaining that resolving these issues by class action rather than arbitration will be more costly for the trucking industry and that those costs will be passed on along the supply chain.

The Teamsters Union, which is allowed under law to organize employees but not owner-operators, called the decision a “great victory for all workers in the transportation industry, including employees, legitimate independent contractors and drivers misclassified as independent contractors who are suffering egregious wage theft.”

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Werner Logistics recognized as Enterprise Business of Year at tech celebration

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Members of the Werner Logistics team include (front row) Rajan Bhattarai, Stacey Richter, Marina Brown, Vajra Anugu, Lavanya Gudimetla, Kim Smith, Padmaja Ravipati and Manoj Eedara; (back row) Andy Damkroger, Ronnie Thomas, Johnny Boykin and O’Brien Chin.  (Courtesy: WERNER ENTERPRISES)

OMAHA, Neb. — Werner Enterprises, a transportation and logistics provider, has been recognized as the Enterprise Business of the Year at the 2019 AIM Tech Celebration.

Werner associate Marina Brown was also named the Tech Champion of the Year.

“Werner Logistics continues to show our ability to differentiate the Werner portfolio with creative and innovative solutions,” said President and Chief Executive Officer Derek Leathers. “It is especially important to acknowledge our talent and culture because without them none of these groundbreaking achievements are possible.”

Leathers said Werner Logistics was named Enterprise Business of the Year for its outstanding application of technology. Other criteria included innovative product/project deployment, groundbreaking ideas or implementations or an outstanding return on technology investment.

The Tech Champion of the Year Award is a special recognition conferred by the Tech Celebration award committee to an individual or group who has contributed their time and talents to AIM and other tech community initiatives to develop tech awareness and skills in others. Brown is an Application Development Manager at Werner.

The AIM Institute, headquartered in Omaha, is an innovative not-for-profit that grows, connects and inspires the tech talent community through career development and educational programs. Through these efforts, the AIM Institute improves thousands of lives across the Silicon Prairie.

Werner Enterprises was founded in 1956.

For more information, visit www.werner.com.

 

 

 

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FTR’s September Shippers Conditions Index Stays in Positive Territory

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September Shippers Condition Index is unchanged over August but forecast indicate upward trend.

Bloomington, Ind.– FTR’s Shippers Conditions Index (SCI) for September remained unchanged from August at a 6.4 reading. All measures included in the SCI were positive with less favorable fuel pricing offsetting more favorable freight volume, capacity utilization, and logistics cost factors.

FTR projects the Shippers Conditions Index to trend towards neutral through 2020 as freight demand softens and capacity utilization firms. The potential impact of a global reduction in the sulfur content of marine fuel due to IMO 2020 remains a wildcard.

Todd Tranausky, vice president of rail and intermodal at FTR, commented, “Shippers’ place in the freight market remains solidly positive as the year moves into its final quarter. We expect shippers’ position in the marketplace to slowly deteriorate in 2020 as capacity tightens and freight demand recovers.”

The November issue of FTR’s Shippers Update, published November 7, 2019, details the factors affecting the September Shippers Conditions Index. Also included in November is an analysis of trucking failures, the total number of carriers operating and the effect on overall capacity.

The Shippers Conditions Index tracks the changes representing four major conditions in the U.S. full-load freight market. These conditions are: freight demand, freight rates, fleet capacity, and fuel price. The individual metrics are combined into a single index that tracks the market conditions that influence the shippers’ freight transport environment. A positive score represents good, optimistic conditions. A negative score represents bad, pessimistic conditions. The index tells you the industry’s health at a glance. In life, running a fever is an indication of a health problem. It may not tell you exactly what’s wrong, but it alerts you to look deeper. Similarly, a reading well below zero on the FTR Trucking Conditions Index warns you of a problem…and readings high above zero spell opportunity. Readings near zero are consistent with a neutral operating environment. Double digit readings (both up or down) are warning signs for significant operating changes.

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ATA For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index declines 0.3% in October

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ATA’s tonnage data is dominated by contract freight, which is performing significantly better than the plunge in spot market freight this year. (The Trucker file photo)

ARLINGTON, Va. —  The American Trucking Associations’ advanced seasonally adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index declined 0.3% in October after rising 1% in September. In October, the index equaled 118.1 (2015=100) compared with 118.5 in September.

“October’s tonnage change, both sequentially and year-over-year, fits with an economic outlook for more moderate growth in the fourth quarter,” said ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello. “The ongoing slowdown in manufacturing activity also weighed on truck tonnage last month.”

It is important to note that ATA’s tonnage data is dominated by contract freight, which is performing significantly better than the plunge in spot market freight this year.

September’s reading was revised up compared with our October press release.

Compared with October 2018, the SA index increased 1.7%, the smallest year-over-year gain since June. The index is up 3.9% year-to-date compared with the same period last year.

The not seasonally adjusted index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by the fleets before any seasonal adjustment, equaled 125.4 in October, 8.4% above the September level (115.7). 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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