LME, Inc: Drivers laid off may wait months for a final paycheck

On July 11, 2019 LME Inc., a Minnesota based company, closed down without warning to their hundreds of employees. LME also said that their former employees should expect to wait months to see their final paychecks earned. 

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With no notice over 40 terminals were abruptly shut down and roughly 600 employees, mostly drivers, were laid off. In a message LME Inc sent to all employees, they stated, “Unfortunately our lender is in control of all finances. The lender must be paid all monies owed to the lender first before payment can be made to the employees. This process will take at least 90 days if not longer.” The former employees said this is because of the pay structure and they’re missing at least three weeks of pay. 

LME closed down shortly after an announcement that the company was ordered to pay over $1 million in back pay to 89 union workers laid off in 2016 by Lakeville Motor Express, which was the name LME previously operated under. In fact, Lakeville Motor Express filed bankruptcy just after they laid off 95 union workers without notice. According to past employees, they relocated, changed the name of their company and staffed LME with lower paid non-union employees from Lakeville Motor Express. 

The fleet is under investigation by the state of Minnesota and the National Labor Relations Board for allegedly reopening as Chameleon Carrier, or a different name, once again. In addition, LME didn’t file a WARN notice as required by law to provide workers 60 day notice of mass layoffs. 

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Union Pacific will fine truckers who are late or miss appointments

Union Pacific, the railroad company, will start issuing fines in September of 2019 to truck drivers and trucking companies who miss their intermodal deliveries at six of their west coast terminals. In addition, Union Pacific is also cracking down on the timely removal of containers by imposing new penalties to the drivers who fall short.

Earlier this month Union Pacific issued a customer announcement of their plans to increase efficiency by introducing and implementing a new digital Intermodal Terminal Reservation System (ITR). The ITR will be effective August 6, 2019 replacing their existing Gate Reservation System (GRS) at those six terminals.

The new system will fine drivers $25 for canceling a reservation less than 24 hours prior to the gate cutoff and fine $50 for missing an appointment. However, Union Pacific will also provide a $100 credit for on-time drop offs that don’t depart on the scheduled train. The credit can be used to offset any fines the driver may have inquired. 

The ITR system will be at the following terminals: East Los Angeles, LATC, City of Industry, Lathrop, Brooklyn, and TacSim. Fines will be issued to drivers in less than one month after the system goes into effect, on September 3, 2019. 

Union Pacific also plans to implement the ITR System at other U.S terminals in the future.

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Driver Involved in a Deadly Crash Tells Judge It Was Another Drivers Fault

On April 25, 23 year old truck driver Rogel Aguilera-Mederos caused a fatal chain reaction crash on I-70 near, Lakewood Colorado, involving 24 passenger vehicles and 4 semi trucks. The crash resulted in four fatalities and two people were seriously injured. 

Aguilera-Mederos appeared in Jefferson County Court, yesterday, in Colorado for a preliminary hearing on his role in the crash. Aguilera-Mederos defence attorney originally blamed the crash on faulty brakes. Then he later tried to blame another truck driver.

Rob Corry, Aguilera-Mederos attorney, stated during the hearing that another truck driver that was parked on the shoulder of I-70 is actually to blame for the accident. Corry continued to claim the other driver was to blame, “he parked his semi on the shoulder of the road, thereby blocking the safe route through this stop-and-go accident and really was the proximate cause of the accident but is not charged with any traffic offense and it’s illegal to park on the shoulder.” However, the counterargument stated that Aguilera-Mederos was seen traveling I-70 in similar traffic at least three times as he chose not to take the safe route before. 

Aguilera-Mederos is currently facing 41 charges, including vehicular homicide and remains free on bond. 

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Semi-Truck Caught Fire Severely Burning Driver

A semi truck caught fire late last night in Utah on I-80 near the town of Aragonite in Tooele County.

Investigators say the driver was pulled over off exit 56, and resting in the sleeper berth, when the engine of the truck caught fire. However, the underlying cause is still unknown to police. The driver was transporting plastic pallets, which cause the fire to spread rapidly. The cab was destroyed by the flames and most of the trailer was consumed. 

The driver, whose identity hasn’t been released, was transported by helicopter to the nearest hospital after sustaining life-threatening second-and third-degree burns.

According to the Utah Highway Patrol, the driver had to maneuver through the flames in order to escape the semi-truck.

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Truckers Warn of An Economic Downfall

The economy is healthy, in fact it seems to be thriving and while there are no signs of recession, this year has been bumpy for the $800 billion trucking industry. According to the Cass Freight Index, the past two years retailers and manufacturers are transporting less. 

In an interview with Business Insider, Christopher Powell claims that his pay has decreased from $3,500 to $5,000 a week. Powell isn’t the only driver suffering from decreased pay. In fact, large well known companies like Knight-Swift and Schneider both cut their annual outlooks. FedEz, UPS, and J.B Hunt have been affected too. UPS’s first-quarter bottom line was below last year’s revenue, including their earnings which were below what they expected. 

Many factors come to play, there was exceptionally bad weather in February and international airfreight sank to a three year low. In addition, the potential tariffs that were supposed to go into effect March 1st. Vice President of J.B Hunt stated that goods shipped is down 20%.

On the contrary, this is normal for the trucking industry to see fluctuation. Despite the fact that more companies are going bankrupt or downsizing, the trucking industry has generated almost 12,000 jobs in 2019. At this point only time will tell.

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New Bill Will Cap Semi Truck Speed Limiters at 65 MPH

Last week Senators Johnny Isakson and Chris Coons introduced the Cullum Owings Large Truck Safe Operating Speed Act of 2019, S. 2023. That they say will save lives and improve highway safety. The legislation is named after Cullum Owings, who was killed while returning to school by a semi truck driving too fast to stop. This law is to revive speed limiters for a nationwide cap of 65 mph. If the bill passes it would require DOT to enforce the mandate.

According to a news release from Senator Isakson’s office, the bill will, “require all new commercial trucks with a gross weight of 26,001 pounds or more to be equipped with speed-limiting devices, which must be set to a maximum speed of 65 miles per hour and be used at all times while in operation.” However, trucks without speed limiters will not be forced to install the technology and trucks with the existing technology must be in compliance.

During the proposal of the regulation, the Department of Transportation stated that by limiting truck speeds to 65 mph would save 63-214 lives a year. The legislation would also require the U.S Department of Transportation, given a time frame of six months, to establish standards and rules to ensure that the speed-limiting technology on the required trucks is accurate and effective. 

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Coming Soon: Flexible HOS Rules

The Department of Transportation is considering to ease up on the current HOS rules for the amount of hours drivers are allowed to drive. The regulation currently limits long-haul truck drivers 11 hours of driving within a 14 hour on-duty time period, accompanied by 10 consecutive hours off duty. Ever since the regulations were put into place early last year, the trucking industry has been fighting to have the HOS revised.

In a report by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) 4,657 big rigs were involved in fatal crashes in 2017, which is a 10% increase from the previous year. However, only 60 of the divers in these fatal crashes were identified as fatigued. Which instigates the hypothesis that if the HOS regulations were to loosen up, could this result in an even larger spike in driver fatigue related crashes? According to the president of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, Cathy Chase, who stated that the proposed flexibility on the HOS regulation is, “a code word for deregulation”, and “the hours of service requirements, which permit truckers to drive up to 11 hours each day, are already exceedingly liberal in our estimation.”

The HOS regulations were established in 1938, by the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC), which no longer exists as of 1996.  However, the HOS were originally as follows: drivers limited to 12 hours of work within a 15-hour period, and work was defined as unloading, driving, handling freight, preparing reports, preparing vehicles for service, or performing any other duties related to the transportation of passengers or property. In conclusion, the maximum hours allowed to drive was 60 hours over 7 days for non-daily drivers and 70 hours over 8 days for daily drivers.

Currently, the proposed revision is being reviewed by the White House’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) which is the largest office within the Executive Office of the President of the United States. In a statement from the FMCSA to AP at the OMB, they’re reviewing the proposed changes that have yet to be made public.

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MTO: 2% Plate Increase Set For July 2020

The government of Ontario announced that starting July 2020 commercial place prices will begin to increase by two percent and continue to rise by two percent each year until 2023. Oversized single trip and blanket permits already increased by 2 two percent on July 2019. According to the Ontario Trucking Association (OTA), “The highest priced commercial plates will go from $4,693.00 in 2019 to $4,786.75 in 2020.” The price will continue to rise by two percent every year until 2023. 

In 2014 Ontario charged up to 70 percent for commercial plates and fees to accommodate for the long absence of no increased fees. The OTA told the Ontario government that, “such rapid increases could not be absorbed in the supply chain and that any increases should be modest and better planned by being tied to either the CPPI or inflation.” Naturally, we experience increased fees to not only reduce the need for additional revenue sources, but the money is invested back into the community.

In summary to the OTA chart, a complete list of fees and plate increases is listed below:

Product/ServiceScheduled to
increase to
Fee will remain at
Driver’s Licence Original and Renewal$91.50$90.00
Driver Instructor’s
Licence
$1.36/month$1.33/month
Passenger Vehicle
Validation
$122.00 (South)  
$61.00 (North)
$120.00 (South) 
$60.00 (North)
Light Commercial <3,000kgVehicle Validation – Personal Use Only $122.00 (South)  
$61.00 (North)
$120.00 (South)  
$60.00 (North)
Light Commercial <3,000kg Vehicle Validation –
Business
$122.00$120.00
Motorcycle and Moped
Validation
Motorcycle: $43.00 South $21.50 North Moped: $12.25Motorcycle: $42.00 South $21.00 NorthMoped: $12.00
Heavy Commercial
Vehicle Validation – IRP
$270.50 – $4,786.75$265.25 – $4,693.00
Heavy Commercial
Vehicle Validation – non-IRP
$270.50 – $4,786.75$265.25 – $4,693.00
Farm Vehicle Validation$160.25 – $1,270.50$157.00 – $1,245.50

OTA chair David Carruth stated that while no one wants to pay more fees, a measured and planned approach to the public would allow the industry to plan with other members of the supply chain to discuss the increased fees prior to them taking effect. Carruth said, “As an industry, what we’d like to see is these extra plate and fee revenues being directed to MTO and other provincial enforcement officers to support targeted enforcement aimed at the bottom of our industry who use ELD cheat devices, emissions control delete kits, deactivated speed limiters and those who use the Driver Inc model for employing drivers and to avoid paying their fair share of taxes and WSIB remittances at the expense of responsible, compliant carriers.” Carruth believes that those who are cheating the system should be the ones subjected to the increased fees rather than the greater public.

Source: http://ontruck.org/mto-introduces-2-scheduled-plate-increases-for-july-2020/

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