OOIDA weighs in on updates to Trucking Action Plan, Hutcheson nomination
April 8, 2022
The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association had plenty to address during a busy week of news for the trucking industry.
On Monday, April 4, President Joe Biden and U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg offered an update to the administration’s Trucking Action Plan during an event on the White House lawn.
During the address, both Biden and Buttigieg applauded truckers for their contributions to the national economy. The President summed up the just how important truckers are to the country.
“You all literally make the economy run,” Biden said. “If you all quit, everything comes to a halt. Think about it. I’m not joking. Think about it, things would come to a literal halt.”
Some of the issues the administration highlighted during the address:
- The implementation of a Truck Lease Task Force to combat predatory lease agreements.
- A Women of Trucking Advisory Board aimed at recruiting and retaining more women in the industry.
- The addition of truck parking expansion to the action plan.
- Additional career opportunities for transition veterans, including 100 new apprenticeship programs.
- Investigative studies into detention time and driver compensation.
OOIDA was pleased with the administration’s inclusion of issues affecting driver retention – such as parking and detention time – but is still skeptical of the long-term effects.
“The Biden Trucking Action Plan remains a mixed bag of policies intended to improve jobs and employment opportunities within the industry,” said Jay Grimes, OOIDA’s director of federal affairs. “We applaud the administration for adding truck parking to the plan and agree that the lack of parking across the country is about more than just inconvenience. OOIDA is also pleased that DOT, along with other federal agencies, has started gathering information on critical issues like detention time and driver compensation.”
While the Association is pleased with the direction of the action plan, actions speak louder than words. It is just that – action – that OOIDA is now calling for.
“Today’s update notes significant progress on establishing apprenticeship programs and plenty of funding to help states expedite CDLs, but we have yet to really see any substantive actions that can help keep new or current drivers in the industry long-term,” Grimes said.
One such action that could have long-term effects for the industry is addressing detention time. OOIDA continues to push for a repeal of the overtime exemption in the Fair Labor Standards Act so drivers can be compensated for all of their time.
Over the next 18 months to two years, the Department of Transportation plans to conduct studies on detention and general driver compensation. Albeit a step forward to have detention be part of the conversation, the administration’s approach could be a slow crawl towards change.
Following the address, OOIDA President Todd Spencer joined Marketplace to discuss the impact detention time has on drivers and the industry as a whole. Spencer was direct when underscoring just how detrimental it is to the supply chain.
“It’s a monumental problem in terms of driver satisfaction,” Spencer said. “But in the bigger picture, it undermines the efficiency of our entire supply chain.”
OOIDA supports nomination
On April 6, President Biden formally nominated Robin Hutcheson to become administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Hutcheson was named acting administrator of FMCSA on Jan 19. Her nomination will now require confirmation from the U.S. Senate. Following the nomination, Spencer and OOIDA voiced their support of Hutcheson.
“As FMCSA’s acting Administrator, Robin Hutcheson has demonstrated a genuine appreciation for the work of our members and an eagerness to help address some of the issues that are most important to them,” Spencer said. “We look forward to working with her as administrator to promote our shared goals of supporting the men and women who make their living behind the wheel of a heavy vehicle while improving highway safety for all road users.” LL