No transparency in meetings about broker transparency

May 27, 2020

Wendy Parker

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The invitation on the Twitter-bot reads: “Join us on Friday, May 29th at 11:00 a.m. CDT, as Bob Voltmann, CEO of TIA, Gail Rutkowski, Executive Director of NASSTRAC and Rick Blasgen, CEO of CSCMP come together to talk about the OOIDA protest and the part shippers can play in its resolution.”

Well I’ll be dipped. I was actually touched when I read the tweet.

I thought it was real nice to be invited, especially since none of us here at Land Line Media have any idea why the Transportation Intermediaries Association keeps referring to it as the “OOIDA protest,” and we probably should since we’re the ones writing for OOIDA these days.

I mean, of course, we’ve heard about (and covered) the 20-day trucker sit-in demonstration in Washington, D.C. Not only did President Donald Trump acknowledge the truckers, but representatives from his administration met some of the drivers and promised an open line of communication regarding their transparency concerns.

OOIDA applauds these groups and seeks to continue the fight that Jim Johnston and the Association began back in ages ago – a recurring effort Voltmann insipidly refers to as “Groundhog Day” in TIA’s recent letter to its members that basically tells them how to politely break the law and use strong-arm tactics to avoid having to follow it or be asked about it at all.

One of the best things about this particular correspondence is Bob’s bubbly blue signature, floating above the line like a lovely little cloud. (I would have added a smiley face inside the “o,” but that’s just me.)

Let’s also highlight the part of the letter about how to issue thinly veiled threats to carriers while smiling in their face and offering them crap rates – I loved that. Really, Bob, you should write more. It really helps make OOIDA’s case about why we need transparency.

Through the years since deregulation, leaders from OOIDA have sent many letters to Congress asking for enforcement and expansion of already-in-place broker transparency regulations, specifically, 371.3 in the FMCSA Green Book.

The recent round of association letters to the FMCSA requesting an immediate review of transparency concerns has been met with such vitriol from Voltmann and the TIA that I could scarcely believe someone with such a happy, round signature could fuss so much about being transparent.

Was the Bob with floaty blue penmanship the same Bob who angrily signed a letter comparing a request for broker transparency to being “in a communist country”? Tell me it ain’t so, Bob.

Oh, but it is. You know what else Bob said? He said that drivers didn’t know enough about the market to handle their trucking businesses without brokers.

Gee, Bob, ya’ think? Duh. Precisely why the drivers are asking for transparency, Bob. Lord son, follow along if you’re going to stir the pot. Knowing the information is part of the request, Scooter. You just made the case for transparency, albeit in a very hostile and offensive manner.

Anyhoo, back to the invitation.

I went to register for the webinar, which is wonderful in itself because the whole magazine and radio staff could attend without incurring travel expenses to cover the “OOIDA protest” that we did not organize. Truckers did that on their own. Good on them.

I’m not sure if NASSTRAC was trying to trick us into believing they really wanted us to join them in listening to Bob and the other speakers at the webinar with their warm and welcoming Twitter invite, but I can assure you the application to attend makes it clear that they do not.

The very first sentence negates any such idea we as a news staff might have had to cover the webinar on the Great OOIDA Protest of 2020.

(In my secret life, we would have dressed like groundhogs and everything. I was actually kind of devastated, and I hope I can get my deposit back on the groundhog costume.)

“This session is for CSCMP and NASSTRAC members only. Any rebroadcast, retransmission, or reporting of this webinar presentation, without the express written consent of CSCMP is prohibited.”

Well, that’s not very friendly.

All this blustery bluster about how attacked broker and shippers feel coupled with letters to their professional association members on how to skirt the law, topped off with meetings about transparency they won’t be transparent about would almost make someone believe someone might have something to hide.

But what would I know? I’m just a dumb trucking journalist who probably doesn’t understand the market in which I’m submerged up to my eyeballs every single day of my life. Kinda like the drivers you so easily discount as unintelligent enough to know when brokers are screwing them in the ear.

So how bout’ it, Bob? Enlighten me with your associative wisdom. I’m waiting for our Land Line Media staff invitation so you can school us nitwits on some trucking.

But I’m not holding my breath.

Wendy Parker

Wendy Parker has covered the trucking industry since 2012 after she says she “lost my mind and decided to climb inside my husband’s big truck to travel with him as an over-the road, long-haul trucker.” Her unique writing style that ranges from biting satire to investigative journalism coupled with her unbridled passion for fighting round out a wildly talented stable of writers.