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    On July 19, 2000 H.R. 4441, the bill calling for a mandatory national federal fuel surcharge for truckload carriers and their drivers, was approved by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, after earlier approval by the Ground Transportation Subcommittee. The legislation will now go to the full House, and must then be considered by the Senate. NASSTRAC and other shipper groups will continue to oppose this legislation.

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NASSTRAC Opposes Mandatory Fuel Surcharge

    Click Here to View the Full Statement

    Congressman Nick Rahall (D-West Virginia) has introduced a bill into Congress (HR- 4441) that would require truckload carriers to implement a mandatory fuel surcharge at any time when fuel prices are $.05 more than the Fuel Price �Norm�. The bill also requires truckload carriers to pass the revenue gained from the fuel surcharge to the individual who purchased fuel for the truckload. Debra Phillips, Executive Director of NASSTRAC, testified at a public hearing, scheduled for June 8, regarding this bill. (Click here for a copy of NASSTRAC�s testimony.)

    The bill was originally developed to benefit owner operators who have experienced significant financial difficulties during the past five months due to the rising cost of diesel fuel. In its original form, this bill covered all modes of truck transportation.

    While NASSTRAC is sympathetic with the owner operators, the association finds several problems with the proposed bill. It does not adequately protect shippers who are already paying fuel surcharges from being billed twice. It limits the ability of carriers to offer competitive pricing, with language prohibiting carriers from lowering their rates if this action could be perceived as avoiding the mandatory fuel surcharge.

    The bill would be difficult to enforce because neither the DOT nor STB is willing to administer it. Therefore, owner operators would have to take their clients or employers to court if they were not being appropriately compensated. Further, a $ .05 fluctuation in prices is a common occurrence, and the bill does not account for regional differences in diesel fuel prices.

    Today�s transportation services providers cannot be easily categorized as truckload, LTL and package carriers. The industry does not work that way. Some companies offer all three services, and a number of third party logistics providers also provide truckload transportation.

    Regardless of which mode of transportation is affected, NASSTRAC opposes government regulation of prices. The industry was de-regulated in 1980, and we believe that the free market is the appropriate place for pricing to be determined on an individual basis between shippers and providers.

    Click Here to View the Full Statement


    Debra Phillips via e-mail at: [email protected] or call 202.484.9188

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NASSTRAC Testifies in Opposition to Hours of Service Rules

    Click Here to view the full statement.

    Washington, DC � The National Small Shipments Traffic Conference Inc. (NASSTRAC) testified in opposition to new hours of service for truck drivers proposed the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA). The testimony was presented during public hearings this week at the Department of Transportation.

    NASSTRAC opposes the proposed rules for a number of reasons. The economic impact of these rules is significant and affects all aspects of our economy. Today�s businesses operate in a Just-in-Time environment with lean inventories. The advent of e-commerce is creating even greater demands for products to ship quickly. These proposed hours of service would force both shippers and carriers to change many aspects of their operations, a major undertaking that would be costly and time consuming. Further, the efficiencies that have been achieved through improved supply chain management would be jeopardized. NASSTRAC supports improved safety for our nation�s highways. However, like some safety groups, we question the ability of the proposed hours of service rules to achieve the desired result, safer highways,� said Debra Phillips, Executive Director of NASSTRAC.

    For a complete copy of NASSTRAC�s testimony before the FMCSA, visit the association�s web site, www.nasstrac.org. �Together, shippers and carriers have achieved tremendous improvements in supply chain efficiency. NASSTRAC has been working closely with its carrier members to understand their position regarding the hours of service rules and the potential impact on their operations. NASSTRAC will continue to support its partners in the motor carrier industry in regard to this issue,� said John DuBiel, Jr., Provider Relations Committee Chairperson for NASSTRAC and Vice President of Global Transportation for Revlon.

    The new rules would require drivers to have 10 consecutive hours for rest out of each 24-hour period, as well as two hours of additional time off during the remaining 14 hours. The rules would also reserve weekends (or their functional equivalent), for rest. Compliance with these requirements would be monitored through the use of electronic on-board recorders (black boxes) in certain truck cabs. If drivers are required to do any loading or unloading services, those services and time spent waiting will count against the driver�s maximum of 12 hours on-duty per day. NASSTRAC is a shipper�s association focusing on essential transportation, including less-than-truckload and package, and supply chain functions. The organization�s mission is to promote professional development of its members through education, advocacy, provider relations and professional interaction. NASSTRAC serves the interests of both domestic and global shippers. For more information, call the Washington office at 202-484-9188.

    Click Here to view the full statement.


    Debra Phillips or call 202-484-9188

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NASSTRAC Welcomes STB Decision on NCC Reform

    For Immediate Release Contact: Debra Phillips, 202-484-9188

    NASSTRAC Welcomes STB Decision on NCC Reform

    WASHINGTON, DC -- The National Small Shipments Traffic Conference, Inc. (NASSTRAC) welcomes the decision by the Surface Transportation Board (STB) to review reform of both the rate bureaus and the National Classification Committee. NASSTRAC plans to take an active role in the proceedings and will file comments. The deadline for opening comments is April 11.

    "We are pleased to see the STB take a closer look at these bodies and processes. NASSTRAC is especially concerned with the NCC process. There has traditionally been little or no access by shippers to data about classification changes or standards. Further, because the NCC is funded by the trucking industry and the decisions about classification changes and increases are made by representatives of the trucking industry, the NCC has an incentive to raise rates," said Debra Phillips, Executive Director.

    NASSTRAC, as well as NITL and several other shippers and organizations recently filed a statement with the NCC in opposition to proposed classification changes for approximately 800 poisonous materials, some as innocuous as deodorant. The increases and the resulting class rate increases are significant, in some cases tripling the current ratings.

    At the February 7 panel meeting, NASSTRAC presented its position with the support of shippers attending the meeting. The reclassification was approved, with minor modifications.

    "This is only one example of the NCC's response to shipper input. A hazardous materials expert from Fisher Scientific was present during our presentation, yet not one question was asked by the panel. Many shippers feel that, while we are eligible to speak before the NCC, our comments fall on deaf ears, " said Phillips. She compared the current NCC proceedings to allowing members of the Tennessee Titans to serve as referees in the Super Bowl and wondering why the St. Louis Rams did not consider it a fair ball game.

    In regard to rate bureaus, NASSTRAC has in the past protested general rate increases that did not include across the board discounts for shippers not covered by contracts or general rate increases not in keeping with the STB requirements for reasonableness.

    "Clearly, some rate bureaus do a better job than others of instituting general rate increases that are justifiable," said Phillips.

    "We commend the STB for allowing shippers to voice their concerns and for taking a look at these issues," she concluded.

    NASSTRAC is a shipper association focusing on essential transportation, including LTL and package transportation, and supply chain functions. The organization's mission is to promote its members professional goals through advocacy, education, provider relations, and professional interaction. NASSTRAC protects the interests of both global and domestic shippers. For more information, contact the Washington office at 202-484-9188 or visit the web site, www.nasstrac.org.


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NASSTRAC Supports ATA Position on Fuel Reserves

    March 23, 2000

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Debra Phillips

    NASSTRAC Supports ATA Position on Fuel Reserves

    WASHINGTON, DC - The National Small Shipments Traffic Conference, Inc. (NASSTRAC) supports the American Trucking Associations (ATA) in regard to the current fuel crisis. At a hearing before the Ground Transportation Subcommittee of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee yesterday, Walter McCormick, President and CEO of ATA, asked the Committee to support release of fuel from the Federal Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

    "NASSTRAC is concerned about the high cost of fuel and its impact on our members, the transportation industry and the American economy. We support the position taken by Walter McCormick and the American Trucking Associations in seeking releases from the Federal Strategic Petroleum Reserve. The rising cost of fuel appears to be a supply and demand issue, which can be addressed by tapping these reserves to put more fuel into the marketplace. It also sends a message that the United States will not become totally dependent on OPEC for its fuel needs," said Debra Phillips, Executive Director of NASSTRAC.

    John DuBiel, Vice President of Global Transportation for Revlon, and NASSTRAC's Provider Relations Committee Chair, noted, "Our position in this matter is consistent with our effort to build positive working relationships with our carrier partners."

    "NASSTRAC also supports diplomatic efforts aimed at increasing world oil production. This should reduce and stabilize diesel fuel prices. The financial health of the trucking industry is important to NASSTRAC's shipper members and to the economy as a whole," said Phillips.

    NASSTRAC is a shipper association focusing on essential transportation, including less-than-truckload and package, and supply chain functions. The organization's mission is to promote professional development of its members through education, provider relationships, advocacy and professional interaction. NASSTRAC serves the interests of both domestic and global shippers. For more information, call the Washington office at 202-484-9188 or visit the web site, www.nasstrac.org.

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NASSTRAC Appeals Increase in Class Rates for Poisonous Materials

    May 4, 2000
    For Immediate Release

    WASHINGTON, DC-The National Classification Committee (NCC) voted to disapprove dramatic increases in class ratings for poisonous materials at its May 2, 2000 meeting in Alexandria, VA, following appeals by The National Small Shipments Traffic Conference (NASSTRAC) and shipper representatives.

    At its February Panel Meeting, the NCC had voted to increase class ratings on hundreds of poisonous materials covered by DOT hazardous materials regulations. Under the panel decision, ratings from Class 55-100 would have increased up to Class 200, 250, or 300. NASSTRAC opposed the increases at that time and appealed the Panel decision to the full NCC. Following comments by NASSTRAC and shippers who were present during the appeal review yesterday, the NCC voted to disapprove the changes for poisonous materials and instructed staff members to work with shippers and associations, such as NASSTRAC, to gather data about the characteristics of the commodities in question.

    In its appeal, NASSTRAC questioned the justification for such a significant increase, and asked for clearer definitions of how the NCC measures stowability, liability and handling, factors said to support increased class ratings.

    "We are pleased that the NCC allowed us to present our position and is willing to work with us and the shipper representatives who were present during the appeal," said Debra Phillips, Executive Director, NASSTRAC.

    The NCC is expected to review the class ratings of poisonous materials again at its November 2000 meeting.

    NASSTRAC is a shippers' association focusing on essential transportation, including less-than-truckload and package, and supply chain functions. The organization's mission is to promote professional development of its members through education, provider relationships, advocacy and professional interaction. For more information, call the Washington office at 202-484-9188 or visit the web site, www.nasstrac.org.

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STB Suspends Rate Increases Following NASSTRAC Protests

    For Immediate Release

    Contact: Debra Phillips, 202-393-5505, email [email protected]

    STB Suspends Rate Increases Following NASSTRAC Protests

    WASHINGTON, DC� The Surface Transportation Board (STB) suspended general rate increases proposed by four rate bureaus, following protests filed by the National Small Shipments Traffic Conference (NASSTRAC) and The Health and Personal Care Distribution Conference, Inc. The ruling was issued on September 30.

    The rate bureaus include E-MAC Motor Carriers Service Association, Middlewest Motor Freight Bureau, North American Transportation Council, Inc. and Rocky Mountain Tariff Bureau, Inc. All had proposed general rate increases ranging from 4.9% to 5.5% to become effective October 1 and October 4.

    In its decision, the STB states, "While the rate bureaus contend that the increases reflect increased costs, they do not provide quantifiable evidence to support their contentions. We stress that our action does not reflect a view that motor carrier costs have not increased or that particular motor carriers do not need additional revenues. Rather, it reflects our concern about the reasonableness of the proposed GRI�s and resulting undiscounted class rates. Motor carriers have a variety of options to increase their revenues, most of which are not subject to our rate reasonableness jurisdiction."

    "We are pleased that the STB ruled to suspend and investigate these general rate increases," said Debra Phillips, Executive Director of NASSTRAC.

    NASSTRAC and The Health Care and Personal Care Distribution Conference, Inc. did not file protests against general rate increases proposed by the Southern Motor Carriers Conference and PITB. According to Phillips, "SMC took a smaller increase and provided detailed information, and both of these rate bureaus included across the board discounts for shippers to offset the effects of general rate increases. NASSTRAC is concerned on behalf of shippers who do not have contracts in place with selected carriers. Further, even shippers who do have contracts may receive inbound freight from a supplier or customer that moved via a carrier with whom they have no contract. In those situations, across the board discounts protect the shippers� interests."

    "I would like to add that our protests are with four rate bureaus only. Individual carrier rates are the domain of those carriers and their clients. As an organization with both shipper and carrier members, we encourage dialog between both groups so that each has a better understanding of the other�s perspective," said Phillips. She noted that the organization no longer excludes carriers from any part of its educational and membership meetings.

    Based in Washington, D.C., NASSTRAC is the nation�s only trade association focusing on general less-than-truckload (LTL) and package transportation. The organization�s mission is to promote professional development of its members through education, provider relationships, advocacy, and professional interaction. NASSTRAC has an emphasis on both domestic and global transportation. For more information, call the Washington office at 202-393-5505, or visit the web site at www.nasstrac.org.

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NASSTRAC Proposes a 25% Reduction in Density Guidelines Affecting Classification

    NASSTRAC has filed a petition with the National Classification Committee proposing consideration of action to reduce the Density Guidelines by 25 percent. The proposal is based upon a review of testimony submitted by the National Classification Committee before the Surface Transportation Board in connection with the request for extension of antitrust immunity for the classification group. NASSTRAC called attention to the fact that the average density of commodities shipped by truck has declined significantly since 1945, and that this reduction in the average density should be recognized by adjustment to the Density Guidelines. It is expected that the proposal will be considered by the National Classification Committee at a meeting scheduled for Palm Springs in February. NASSTRAC will be present to participate in that action.

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NASSTRAC Active on Issues Important to Shippers as Liability, Antitrust Immunity for Rate Bureaus and Classification and Credit Rules Are Addressed

    NASSTRAC is leading the way in providing impetus for changes in rules and regulations affecting LTL distribution that should provide a friendlier atmosphere for transportation business reactions. NASSTRAC was the catalyst that produced significant improvement of the completely obsolete Bill-of-Lading that had been in effect and, through a joint effort with motor carrier CEOs and carrier members of the National Classification Committee, hammered out a compromise version that is simplified, shortened, and includes warnings for alerting shippers on what rules or rates might apply to their shipments. Although a major improvement in the Bill-of-Lading was accomplished, NASSTRAC has not called an end to that project, and is continuing efforts to provide further protections and direct shipper warnings of hidden potential pitfalls. This is a continuing project for NASSTRAC until the final objective is accomplished.

    NASSTRAC has also led the way in providing input into proceedings currently on the docket at the Surface Transportation Board addressing whether or not to continue antitrust immunity for the Motor Carrier Rate Bureaus and the National Classification Committee/National Motor Freight Traffic Association. NASSTRAC comments to the agency considering the antitrust immunity of these agencies seek retention, without antitrust immunity, of authority to perform useful services for shippers, such as standardized documentation, packaging and similar standards pertaining to the transportation of goods that provide guidance, as opposed to rules.

    NASSTRAC has also been active in addressing liability, limitations on liability and credit rules, to seek changes in the rules and regulations that will benefit both shippers and carriers. Clear cut rules calling for agreement between the parties on a combination of liability limits and rates and a cap on penalties that can be assessed for late payment or incomplete payment of freight bills are the objective of this process. The first article in this section reports on the results of a Department of Transportation study on liability which has just been issued.

    The new version of the Bill-of-Lading, along with guidelines, and a sample Transportation Contract is available to NASSTRACmembers upon request, as is access to expert advice through the NASSTRAC TELEPHONE HOTLINE, which provides access to a variety of experts, including the NASSTRAC General Counsel. Any new member of NASSTRAC automatically receives the new Bill-of-Lading, the Sample Transportation Contract, and a complete roster of shipper and carrier contacts, complete with addresses and telephone numbers.

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DOT Adopts NASSTRAC Position in Secretary of Transportation Report on Liability Recommending Retention of CARMACK

    The long-awaited Secretary of Transportation Report to Congress on whether the full liability standard of the Carmack Amendment should be altered has finally been issued. The Department of Transportation (DOT) Report adopts the position advocated in extensive comments filed with the DOT by NASSTRAC emphasizing the need to continue the Carmack full liability standards.

    The final version of the report is a significant victory for the NASSTRAC efforts to protect shipper interests on the liability issues. Several months ago, the DOT issued an interim proposed report without recommendations that indicated the Department intended to adopt a low dollar limit for liability. NASSTRAC immediately responded with comments reiterating its previous opposition in support of Carmack and pointing out that: (1) a low liability limit would reduce the standard of care, and shippers are interested first and foremost in having their shipments delivered intact; and (2) the various international agreements for dollar caps are the result of trying to rationalize the different outcomes that would occur if a party could choose the country with the most favorable standard on an international shipment.

    NASSTRAC initiated two years of meetings of Ad Hoc Committees including shippers and carriers to address the Bill-of-Lading. The first year of meetings involved the CEOs of major trucking companies. This group of shippers and carriers conducted a series of cooperative and congenial discussions that resulted in a new proposed Bill-of-Lading. However, the one sticking point was the liability issue. The parties agreed to disagree and left the Note 2 pertaining to liability out of the proposed Bill-of-Lading.

    The ATA recommended sending this version to the National Classification Committee with the direction that another Ad Hoc Committee composed of shippers and carriers should meet under the auspices of the National Motor Freight Traffic Association (NMFTA) to review and revise the Carrier CEO/NASSTRAC version of the Bill-of-Lading which would then be published by the NMFTA. This jointly-developed version addressed the liability issue by including in Note 2 a citation of the appropriate sections of the Interstate Commerce Termination Act of 1995 (ICCTA) pertaining to liability. The NASSTRAC and carrier members of the Ad Hoc Committee agreed to disagree on interpretation of the referenced sections of ICCTA and leave the final interpretation up to the Courts, the DOT study, or legislation. NASSTRAC held that the net result of the ICCTA provisions was to retain Carmack in effect. The carrier members held otherwise. The DOT study upholds the NASSTRAC position.

    The main conclusion of the DOT Liability Study is that the current system of full value recovery with flexibility to vary liability by released rates or contract should be continued until the parties come closer to agreement on an alternative liability regime. This will likely lead to more joint meetings between shippers and carriers such as the two-year series of meetings initiated by NASSTRAC. NASSTRAC is prepared to meet with carrier representatives to develop a mutually-acceptable solution to the problem of developing an alternative liability regime.

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NASSTRAC Initiates New and Valuable Bill-of-Lading and Contract Review Service For Membership At No Cost

    NASSTRAC has initiated a new service that provides a review of members' individual Bills-of-Lading and Contracts at no cost to the member. The review is performed by NASSTRAC General Counsel John Cutler, a nationally-acclaimed transportation attorney who is a specialist in the development of shipper Bills-of-Lading and Contracts.

    The free service for members is a valuable asset members can use to prevent costly situations that can arise from conditions either included or not covered in a shipper Contract or Bill-of-Lading. All that is required from the member to set up the review is a telephone call to the NASSTRAC General Counsel in his Washington Office at 202/393-5710.

    This is one of a number of new member services introduced by NASSTRAC to enhance the value of membership. Another of the new services is a pamphlet including a listing of volunteer experts in a number of areas who have offered to respond to member requests for information or guidance. The new tool makes it easier for members to take advantage of the expertise available to them to help solve their distribution problems. It is an expansion of the TELEPHONE HOTLINE which has been a tool available to members through the Association's Washington Office.

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