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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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ACT Research: Heavy duty markets at the edge of the precipice

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This graph by ACT Research shows freight growth will decline in 2020 and 2021 before accelerating in 2022, Class 8 truck productivity will remain in the negative through 2022 but will become less each year. (Courtesy: ACT RESEARCH)

COLUMBUS, Ind.  – According to ACT Research’s latest release of the North American Commercial Vehicle OUTLOOK, current data and anecdotes make a strong case that the heavy-duty vehicle markets are at the edge of the precipice.

“Since the start of this demand up-cycle in late 2017, we have targeted this year’s third quarter as the point at which the industry was likely to see production rollover,” said Kenny Vieth, ACT’s president and senior analyst. “That targeting was largely derived from historical precedent, with historical peak-level build lasting between 13 and 15 months. For the current cycle, we date peak build rates to June 2018, so August represents the 15th month of peak-level production.”

Regarding heavy vehicle demand, Vieth said, “At the heart of our cycle duration prediction, carrier profitability and production peaks always lag the freight cycle, so capacity building always accelerates relative to freight growth at exactly the wrong time, every time.

“Large new inventories and deteriorating freight and rate conditions suggest erring on the side of caution remains the right call, and we are warning those in the industry to be prepared for down weeks starting as early as fourth quarter.”

ACT Research is a publisher of commercial vehicle truck, trailer, and bus industry data, market analysis and forecasting services for the North American and China markets. ACT’s analytical services are used by all major North American truck and trailer manufacturers and their suppliers, as well as banking and investment companies.

More information can be found at www.actresearch.net.

 

 

 

 

 

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FTR’s June Trucking Conditions Index up slightly but still negative

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An FTR executive said although rates remain weak for carriers, they appear at least to be stabilizing. (The Trucker file photo)

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — FTR’s revised Trucking Conditions Index (TCI) showed a significant improvement in June but remained in slightly negative territory at a reading of -0.82, according to FTR.

Strengthening freight demand and lower diesel prices were offset by weak truckload rates and easing capacity utilization plus some higher financing costs that negatively affected carriers during the month.

FTR’s forecast for the TCI is for it to remain in low single-digit negative range into 2020, but some positive readings are possible during 2019.

Details of the revised TCI for June are found in the August issue of FTR’s Trucking Update, published July 31. The ‘Notes by the Dashboard Light’ section in the current issue explains how FTR’s July 2019 Freight•cast model update affects key FTR metrics on the trucking industry, including the TCI. Along with the TCI and ‘Notes by the Dashboard Light,’ the Trucking Update includes data and analysis on load volumes, the capacity environment, rates, costs and the truck driver situation.

“Although rates remain weak for carriers, they appear at least to be stabilizing,” said  Avery Vise, vice president of trucking. “Meanwhile, freight demand appears firmer in recent weeks than in early spring, but the outlook is far from rosy given a softening industrial sector. Our biggest near-term concern, however, is the potential impact of the trade war with China on consumer spending and business investment.”

The TCI tracks the changes representing five major conditions in the U.S. truck market. These conditions are freight volumes, freight rates, fleet capacity, fuel price, and financing. The individual metrics are combined into a single index indicating the industry’s overall health. A positive score represents good, optimistic conditions. Conversely, a negative score represents bad, pessimistic conditions. Readings near zero are consistent with a neutral operating environment, and double-digit readings (up or down) suggest significant operating changes are likely.

As noted, FTR in July completed a major update of its Freight•cast model, including both updated data and enhancements to the methodology. FTR traditionally has treated the TCI as a contemporaneous assessment of overall conditions at a point in time, so we have made very few changes to historical TCI readings. However, given the noticeably different freight volume and utilization metrics following the model update – especially during 2014 through today – we have restated the TCI back to January 2014. The historical revisions also reflect a more robust measure of market rates that FTR adopted in the spring of 2018. Directionally, the old and new TCI are largely correlated since mid-2016, but the updated TCI shows peak conditions occurring earlier in 2018 than the prior metric. Moreover, that peak range was not as strong and was shorter than previously indicated.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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MVT Solutions offers no cost fuel efficiency reports

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Fleets currently relying on MVTS results include Hirschbach Motor Lines, Penske Truck Leasing, Nussbaum Transportation, Mesilla Valley Transportation, C.R. England and Charger Logistics. (Courtesy: MVT SOLUTIONS)

LAS CRUCES, N.M. — MVT Solutions, a provider of fuel economy testing and design and development services for the trucking industry, Thursday said that the test reports for its Certified Products are now available on a no-cost subscription basis.

“Receiving MVTS Certification is a mark of fuel efficiency excellence for a product and we feel strongly that the industry should have that information and the supporting test data in a timely manner and at no cost,” said Daryl Bear, lead engineer & COO at MVT Solutions. “In addition, the suppliers of the certified products have confidence that their results are being delivered by a trusted source to companies that are interested in their technologies.”

While MVT Solutions Certified Products’ Test Reports with the detailed test data on the latest fuel efficiency solutions for transportation companies are posted on the company’s website, the new subscription service ensures results are delivered automatically as soon as they are available giving fleets the ability to have the most up-to-date information, Bear said, adding that fleets currently relying on MVTS results include Hirschbach Motor Lines, Penske Truck Leasing, Nussbaum Transportation, Mesilla Valley Transportation, C.R. England and Charger Logistics.

Certified fuel economy testing by MVT Solutions was developed from race car engineering and advanced vehicle test methods using sensors and recording systems that collect data on fuel consumption, aerodynamics, rolling resistance, driver behavior and other variables that affect fuel consumption. The data is analyzed using proprietary methods.

Subscribing can be done via the MVT Solutions website or by following the company on LinkedIn.

MVT Solutions test reports for custom and developmental testing done for fleets or suppliers are released only with the permission of the company and are not part of the subscription service.

 

 

 

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