Commerce Express Weekly Road Map:

January 17th, 2023

Keeping you informed on the latest news/insights in our industry.

Commerce Express Blog

Labor Department Proposal Threatens Nationwide Independent Contractor Model-01

A proposed rule from U.S. Department of Labor may reconceive how trucking’s workforce is defined across the country.

If enacted, the proposed rule (under the Fair Labor Standards Act) would usher in an end to classifying truck drivers as independent contractors. At least, that’s what stakeholders allege.

So, what exactly are the details behind this proposal?

Read More Here

Lilac semi truck with aluminum trailer is moving along winding highway through the Grand pass in California against the background of orange sandstone mountain slopes and contrast green trees and small bushes and transporting commercial cargo to destination warehouse

Trucking Update

CTA Files Request for New Preliminary Injunction to Block AB5 

The California Trucking Association has filed a request for a new preliminary injunction to block AB5 from the state’s trucking industry, again – stating that the law simply won’t work.  

In the CTA’s latest injunction request, it maintains that AB5 is in violation of the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act – like in the original filing.  

Though in another part of the CTA request, they say AB5 should be blocked from state regulation of trucking because of “implied preemption,” along the lines of the F4A question, and how much a state can do in regulating activity that is also governed by extensive federal regulation – as reported by Freightwaves.

Chassis Dwell Times Continue in Chicago and Kansas City 

Marine chassis continues to be held by shippers for extended periods of time in Chicago and Kansas City – the two main inland markets where congestion continues to linger into this new year.  

As the JOC points out, the number of grounded containers in the Midwest markets continues to decline significantly in the past few months. But, street dwell continues to remain at significant elevated levels which affects the chassis supply in Chicago and Kansas City.  

Data shows the average dwell in Kansas City went up in December to 14.5 days on average, which is higher than the 13.4 day average for the full year.  

Experts say the chassis will remain on the street until shippers can unclog their warehouses.  

Hours of Service Regulations are Waived for Truckers Hauling Heating Fuel in Wisconsin 

As of January 6th, an executive order issued by the Wisconsin Governor, declared an energy emergency that is related to a shortage of residential heating fuel in the state. 

As such, truck drivers that will obtain or haul residential heating fuel in Wisconsin are exempted from federal hours of service regulations.  

This is in effect as long as drivers are providing assistance for the emergency, or for a period of 30 days (through February 4th), whichever is shorter.  

Did You Know: Total Freight Costs Fall Year-Over-Year in December

For the first time in two year – 28 months to be exact – total freight costs fall year-over-year in December.

A report showed total expenditures on the payment’s platform were down 4.3 percent year-over-year and 5.5 percent lower than in November.

While the shipments component of the freight index showed a 3.9 percent year-over-year decline. 

Freight Train
Rail Update

U.S. Small Business Administration Asks the FRA to Revise Proposed Train Crew Size Rule 

A proposed rule, that would require at least two crew members in a freight locomotive cab, has been receiving pushback, including from the U.S. Small Business Administration.  

They are asking the FRA to revise and republish its initial regulatory flexibility analysis, as it “significantly underestimates” how much the regulation would cost short-line railroads, as well as a number of potentially affected businesses with this proposed rule.  

Some alternatives, as Freightwaves notes, could include a more streamlined petition process, a longer compliance time for smaller railroads or a performance-based standard that is focused on clearly established safety metrics that would allow presumptive approvals or exemptions. 

Import/Export Market Trends for Rail

Savannah, Houston, and Oakland are all seeing an increase in congestion, vessel clustering, and multiple vessels at anchor.  

Excessive rail dwell times and congestion continue in Memphis, Dallas, and Chicago. 

At Canadian ports and rail ramps congestion remains rampant. Yard utilization (containers on hand divided by total available slots) at Vancouver remains high – partly has to do with the continued congestion in Toronto and Montreal. 

Total U.S. Rail Traffic for the Week Ending January 7th, 2023 

Total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 416,489 carloads and intermodal units, which is down 5.5 percent compared to the same time last year – per the Association of American Railroads.

Total carloads for the week were 212,962 carloads – up 1.4 percent from the same time last year. While U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 203,527 containers and trailers – down 11.8 percent, data shows.

Coal, petroleum and petroleum products, and motor vehicles and parts all posted increases compared to the same time last year. And chemicals, miscellaneous carloads and forest products all posted decreases from the same time last year, per the data.

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