Shippers organizing Washington “fly-in” to “stand up for trucking” on February 1
December 15, 2011
Trucking companies are getting a legislative and lobbying boost from a rather unlikely source—their customers.
Shippers, led by the National Shippers Strategic Transportation Council (NASSTRAC) and supported by nearly a dozen other shipper and carrier organizations, are planning a Feb. 1 “fly-in” to lobby Washington policy makers and legislators on the importance of maintaining and improving productivity in the trucking industry.
This industry-wide event, called “Stand Up For Trucking,” will bring together scores of transportation executives and key stakeholders in trucking. The groups are calling this orchestrated effort “historic” because both shippers and carriers, often at opposite ends of the negotiating table over truck rates and other issues, are working collectively to let their voices be heard so that their Congressional and Senate representatives understand that trucking is a vital national asset that contributes to the well-being of this country.
“We asked ourselves, ‘What if we could get carriers and shippers together for a common agenda on issues of critical importance to the trucking industry?’” said Mike Regan, president of Tranzact Technologies and head of NASSTRAC’s advocacy committee, the point man for the fly-in.
Regan told LM there were three main objectives of the Feb. 1 solidarity show:
1-Get carriers and shippers to demonstrate there are issues over which have common interest;
2-Help legislators understand while freight does not vote, freight transportation is an incredibly important component of U.S. economy. “If you attack freight, you attack the engine of growth in this country,” Regan said. “Everything we get comes via truck,” and;
3-Show legislators that shippers are pro-safety and mode neutral. “We’re not attacking any mode,” he said. “We want to emphasize it’s possible to have a positive agenda that stresses productivity that’s great for economy and great for the country.”
Regan said he expects more than 100 representatives from shippers, carriers, trade associations, and alliances to attend the event, which will include lobbying specific legislators on topics such as truck driver hours-of-service (HOS), expanded use of longer and heavier trucks, improvements in the highway system and other productivity areas.
It is especially timely considering Congress is working on a multi-year highway reauthorization bill that could include language to expand use of longer combination vehicles (LCV). Those double- and triple-trailers have been limited to those states that allowed them prior to 1991, thanks to a railroad industry-won freeze on LCV.
“One congressman told me if we can get more than 100 people calling on individual legislators, that would make a considerable impression,” Regan said.
With pending legislation and advocacy issues threatening to dramatically raise transportation and supply chain costs, more than ten industry associations have agreed to participate in the pro-trucking Washington fly-in next February.
Regan said the idea grew out of a meeting between NASSTRAC and the American Trucking Associations (ATA) last September in Washington and laid the groundwork for this coalition of industry groups to bring a strong pro-truck, pro-safety message to Washington.
“It says a lot about how important these issues are—not only to the trucking industry at large, but also to their customers who have responsibility for managing complex supply chains,” said Regan. “Never before have the advocacy interests of both motor carriers and shippers dependent upon over-the-road trucking been more closely aligned.”
Besides ATA and NASSTRAC, other associations committed to the fly-in are the Transportation Intermediaries Association, National Private Truck Council, Coalition for Transportation Productivity, Truckload Carriers Conference, National Industrial Transportation League, Retail Industry Leaders Association, Cleaner Safer Trucking, Forest Resources Association, National Automobile Dealers Association, and the American Movers and Storage Association.
Brian Everett, executive director of NASSTRAC, said the fact that so many industry associations have found common ground on several critical transportation issues attests to the significance and importance of this initiative. According to Everett, the agenda will include the need to enact a multi-year highway bill that reforms the program and focuses funding on critical freight corridors, as well as the urgent need to pay for highway infrastructure in the most efficient way.
In addition, NASSTRAC, ATA, and participating associations say there’s a significant need to encourage Congress to stay focused on safety while stopping burdensome laws and regulations that impede productivity and increase the delivered cost of goods, including the proposed changes to the truck driver hours of service currently being considered.
“Shippers rely heavily on the safe, reliable, cost-effective service that over-the-road truck transportation offers them,” said Everett. “In fact, more than 70 percent of freight shipments, by value and by tons, move by truck. Unfortunately, many issues currently being considered by lawmakers will have a negative impact on trucking productivity and efficiency if passed, possibly increasing transportation and supply chain costs by more than 10 percent next year alone.”
Along with significant cost increases, companies across America will suffer from significant decreases in efficient distribution and transportation if HOS rules are reduced, Everett added. The recession, high fuel prices, roadway congestion, and a shortage of qualified drivers all have led to reduced capacity and increased transit times for trucking, he added.
“That’s why we believe that now, more than ever, there’s a significant need to stand up for trucking,” Everett said.
There is no registration fee for this industry-wide Washington fly-in but registration is required. For more information and to register, visit http://www.StandUpForTrucking.org .
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