OOIDA outlines measures needed to provide truckers relief

May 13, 2020

Mark Schremmer

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In a letter to leaders of Congress, OOIDA outlined steps that need to be taken to help small-business truck drivers remain viable.

OOIDA sent the letter on Wednesday, May 13 to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.

“Since the outbreak of COVID-19 in the United States, small-business truckers have been risking their lives to deliver critical supplies to communities across the country,” OOIDA wrote in a letter signed by President and CEO Todd Spencer. “OOIDA represents 160,000 small-business truckers and professional drivers, most of which have continued working through this emergency to keep our country healthy, safe and productive. As the initial surge in demand for transporting critical goods has subsided and freight rates are on the decline, many now face significant economic challenges that threaten the viability of their businesses.”

The Association urged lawmakers to quickly provide relief targeted specifically to protect small-business truck drivers.

In the letter, OOIDA focused on five key areas.

Address unscrupulous brokers and freight rates

In recent weeks, the push for transparency in broker transactions has entered the spotlight. OOIDA is asking for improved transparency of transactions records maintained by brokers by requiring automatic electronic disclosure of records under 49 CFR 371.3 and for reformed broker bond requirements to combat unscrupulous brokers who take advantage of small-business truckers.

“An urgent concern among our members is plummeting rates in the freight market,” OOIDA wrote. “Historically low rates are making it impossible for many truckers to cover their basic operating costs. This has created unsustainable conditions for many small trucking businesses.”

In addition, OOIDA said overcapacity of freight could be reduced by allowing current truck weight emergency exemptions to expire.

Increase driver compensation

In order to improve pay to truck drivers, OOIDA said the overtime exemption in the Fair Labor Standards Act should be repealed.

“As drivers work tirelessly during the COVID-19 crisis, it would seem noncontroversial that they should be paid for all the time they spend completing a haul,” OOIDA wrote. “But because of decades-old, outdated laws, employee drivers are not eligible for overtime compensation under FLSA. Congress must repeal this exemption so that drivers are properly compensated for all hours they work.”

OOIDA also said that hazard pay should be provided to truckers who work during the emergency period.

“As essential workers, truckers should be receiving hazard pay throughout the emergency period,” the Association wrote. “It’s unacceptable that many drivers are continuing to be underpaid while they work longer hours and face a greater risk of exposure.”

Improve SBA assistance

OOIDA said several improvements can be made to help maximize the effectiveness of SBA’s programs to help small-business truckers.

  • Allow trucking companies to include truck payments, insurance payments, and depreciation when calculating the maximum Paycheck
  • Protection Program loan amount, as well as permit greater flexibility in how these loans may be used and provide loan forgiveness for these purposes.
  • Allow PPP recipients to deduct expenses paid with forgivable loan proceeds. Congress must fix the Treasury’s and IRS’ decision and allow
  • PPP recipients to deduct expenses that are paid for with a forgiven loan.
  • Fix functionality and processing.
  • Provide additional funding for the Emergency Economic Injury Disaster Loan program and ensure that all eligible small businesses can apply.

Provide targeted financial relief

OOIDA said Congress should suspend the Heavy Vehicle Use Tax and Unified Carrier Registration fees for 2020.

“Providing relief from these fees is a straightforward way to give truckers financial relief, allowing them to devote limited resources to sustaining their business, rather than paying federal taxes.”

Combat the truck parking crisis

The Association also asked Congress to support the Truck Parking Safety Improvement Act, or HR6104, to devote hundreds of millions of dollars to expanding truck parking capacity.

“To improve safety for professional drivers, HR6104 must be included in any subsequent relief packages or the next highway bill.”

Mark Schremmer

Mark Schremmer, senior editor, joined Land Line in 2015. An award-winning journalist and former assistant news editor at The Topeka Capital-Journal, he brings fresh ideas, solid reporting skills, and more than two decades of journalism experience to our staff.