SELECT G.Goods_Movement_Timeline_ID, G.GM_Date, G.Headline, G.Source_Name, G.Source_URL, G.Date_Added, G.Summary FROM GoodsMovementTimeline as G WHERE (G.Goods_Movement_Timeline_ID > 0) AND (G.Headline <> '') ORDER BY G.GM_Date DESC ; METRANS | Goods Movement Timeline

Goods Movement Timeline

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Welcome to the METRANS Goods Movement Timeline. This is a searchable timeline of activities tied to goods movement, logistics and international trade based upon items from the popular press.

Given our location and the importance of this region as an international trade gateway, many of the entries pertain to Southern California. We do however draw from state and national press as well. Some articles' links may have expired, or you may have to pay a fee or register on the Web site where they originally appeared to access the complete article. Our goal however is to provide the researcher with enough information to track significant events over time as they have occurred in key areas like legislation, finance, and security.

This timeline grew out of timelines initially developed for METRANS research projects in the area of goods movement. Earlier entries (before 2005) were therefore not prepared with a searchable database in mind and will be less detailed. We hope, however, that they remain a useful resource.

Environmentalists say proposed clean truck fees too low for Long Beach, LA ports

A proposed $20 fee per container that would be levied against cargo companies employing diesel trucks which would help pay for cleaner alternatives has drawn criticism from environmental groups that say it isn't high enough.
The Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles have proposed implementing the fee, known as the Clean Truck Rate, as part of their push to get all of the trucks that go in and out of the ports to emit zero emissions by 2035. The charge would bring in an estimated $90 million in its first year, officials for both ports have said, which would then be used to pay for and offer incentives toward replacing older, pollution-spewing trucks. The ports rolled out the fee proposal in a draft report last week, and held a public workshop on it Wednesday, Dec. 18, at the Long Beach Civic Chambers .
A public comment period will remain open until Jan. 31. The Los Angeles and Long Beach harbor commissions are scheduled to vote on whether to approve the fee early next year, with the fee set to go into effect in late 2020.
The vast majority of trucks that go in and out of the L.A.-Long Beach ports are older and don't run on clean fuels, according to the ports? draft report. In April 2018, the report said, trucks with a model year earlier than 2014 accounted for 14,345 or almost 84%of the current fleet. This is due, the report added, to the highly competitive nature of the industry, and the substantially lower purchase price of used trucks compared to new trucks.
The ports would charge $10 per loaded twenty-foot equivalent unit that goes in or out of the twin complex; TEUs are a universal measurement and most containers today are 40-feet so the port would essentially charge $20 per container. Rates would apply to cargo owners and be implemented in 2020 on trucks hauling loaded containers entering or leaving the terminals. There also would be possible rebates for trucks that meet near-zero or zero emissions.
This is a significant pot of money that we?re talking about, said Heather Tomley, managing director of Planning and Environmental Affairs for the Port of Long Beach.
Critics who spoke at the workshop, however, said the fee needs to be higher.
Ninety million isn't going to buy you a lot, said Todd Campbell of Clean Energy. I think we need a serious check on this rate.
Tomley and her counterpart, Chris Cannon, director of environmental management for the Port of Los Angeles, both stressed that establishing the fee required a balancing act.
The program, Tomley said, needs to be done in a sustainable way that's consistent with availability of those (clean) technologies and at a cost that can be sustainably absorbed.
Among the concerns, Cannon said, are worries that the fees could be passed on to independent truck drivers at the bottom of the pay scale.
Jose Alvarez, a 26-year-old truck driver, expressed those concerns at the workshop.
We all want clean air especially as drivers sitting in line for hours breathing the fumes, said Alvarez, a Bell Gardens resident.
We ask whatever the rate, he added, make sure the cost doesn't get put onto us, the truck drivers.
Among the issues that need to be worked out, Cannon said, is how to protect drivers from having to pay the fees.
Nobody wants the drivers to get hit with a fee, Cannon said. That is a very, very significant issue for us.
Also taking issue with the $10 rate was the Coalition for Clean Air.
While seemingly a large sum of funds, $90 million is woefully inadequate to meet the needs of replacing a polluting heavy-duty truck fleet that services both ports every day, Jerilyn Lopez Mendoza, a former Los Angeles port commissioner and representative of the nonprofit coalition, wrote in a news release her group sent out after the meeting.
To achieve the ports? goal, the coalition said, 12,000 trucks would need to be replaced, costing $1.2 billion or $400 million annually for three years. The appropriate fee, the coalition said, would be $45 a container.
Residents near the ports also testified, saying that higher pollution levels in adjacent communities needs to be aggressively addressed.
The cost is our lives and being able to live here, said Carolyn Allred of Long Beach. The primary question for the ports, she said, should be, How are the people impacted and affected??
More meetings will be held to gather feedback in January and email comments also are being accepted.
Information is available at

Drones 'will keep the port safer,' commissioner says, as LA Port prepares to launch program

Could the use of a port drone have averted a tragic 2017 helicopter crash into the harbor?
Presenters at this week's Board of Los Angeles Harbor Commissioners meeting said it's one of the many reasons acquiring unmanned aerial system devices, commonly known as drones, makes sense for both the Los Angeles Port Police and the Harbor Department.
Los Angeles Port Police gave the presentation to harbor commissioners on Thursday, Dec. 19, saying that the UAS devices will have a significant use in mapping and photography so that assignments such as the one in 2017 might be handled without the potential danger. Drones have the capacity to fly low without putting pilots or passengers in harm's way.
But they also have significant uses in law enforcement. The port Police Department is in the process of codifying guidelines and training protocols for the new equipment.
The meeting Thursday, officials said, was essentially a final step; the port police and Harbor Department have the unmanned aerial system devices in hand and are ready to deploy them.
Los Angeles Port Police Deputy Chief Randy Allen told commissioners that the technology is becoming widespread throughout law enforcement and will soon be implemented by the Los Angeles Port Police.
Los Angeles Port Police and the Harbor Department collectively have acquired seven of the devices and have been carrying out training with personnel.
The City of Los Angeles has studied this program extensively, he told commissioners, and has engaged the community at many levels to develop their policies.
Ever since 9-11, ports have been seen as potential targets, requiring the addition of better security systems in the past two decades.
The unmanned craft cannot take the place of helicopters in all instances, Allen said. But the possible uses are many, even beyond providing videos and photos or carrying out mapping and survey tasks. The devices, Allen added, will be a big assist in security detail.
Referring to the helicopter crash On Jan. 4, 2017, Michael Justice, 61, a photographer under contract with the port, rode in a helicopter to take photos of cruise ships leaving port. But both he and the pilot, Christopher Reed, 41, died when the helicopter, flying low near the breakwater, crashed into the water.
From a police perspective, Allen said, there are emergency and search-and-rescue operations in which unmanned craft can be especially useful. And, Allen added, searches can be conducted more safely without officers involved.
We can (also) deliver a communication device, a phone, to someone on a vessel or on the bridge, Allen said. Over the years, folks have climbed onto the bridge who are suicidal. A (drone) can be used to drop off a communications device.
Allen assured commissioners that strict protocols were being put in place to guard against privacy breaches and abuse. He said there will be 'strict oversight and accountability.
This is just an extension of our human capabilities, he said.
The same clearances will be needed as are required for officers carrying out police duties. If a police officer needs a search warrant to access an area, for example, the drone will also need one, Allen said.
Privacy, he added in a telephone interview later, was a major concern.
We?re serious about privacy rights, Allen said, and we've put in significant levels of oversight.
The port devices are small, weighing between 5 and 8 pounds. (Some others can weigh up to 55 pounds, Allen said.) They require both a certified pilot and a trained observer to be onsite.
During the Thursday meeting, some commissioners requested the precise GPS records be kept, along with the logs kept by officers at least for a period of time to better track the drones..
Unmanned craft give authorities a way of keeping our team out of harm's way, said Commissioner Anthony Pirozzi. I know it will keep the port safer.
The port has tight restrictions on outside drones being flown in port airspace. Operators must get a permit, pay a fee and have a certified pilot flying the device with a port police officer accompanying them. The department also has the capability now to detect when an unmanned device is being flown in the port.

$18 million tugboat project will replace old units with hybrids at ports of Long Beach, LA

With buy-in this week from the Port of Los Angeles, a program to design and develop a hybrid electric-drive tugboat that would replace today's diesel-only standard is set to begin next year.
Port commissioners voted this week to spend $117,000, matching an amount the Port of Long Beach had already approved, to support the project, which private company Millennium Maritime is developing.
The project will cost $18 million altogether, with other funding coming from Millennium and a grant from the California Air Resources Board. The Long Beach port is the lead agency on the project, which stems from the 2006 Clean Air Action Plan agreement between both ports. The goal is to usher in diesel-electric hybrid technology for working tugboats in the twin harbors.
Chris Cannon, director of environmental management at the Port of Los Angeles, said the diesel tugs are low-hanging fruit? in the ongoing battle against pollution-spewing equipment that operates in the ports.
The new tug will be developed and built during 2020 and will likely be ready for deployment sometime in early 2021, Cannon said. The idea is to replace existing diesel tugs with cleaner models that look the same. A single hybrid tugboat would have six high-speed diesel engines and two electric propulsion motors.
L.A. Harbor Commissioner Edward Renwick suggested the port begin looking into ways it can share in the future proceeds of clean technology it helps pay for and test in its early stages.
He urged the port to think about creating a mechanism with which the port can reap future proceeds from new technology created with its funding help.
This may very well be the next generation of tugboats all over the world, or not, Renwick said at the Thursday, Dec. 19, commission meeting at which the tugboat funding was OK?d. But if they are, we should get a piece of it.

Project selected for Terminal Island project files claim against Port of Los Angeles

The developers of a $130 million project designed to streamline the handling of cargo at the Port of Los Angeles announced Monday, Dec.16, that they have filed a damages claim against the port and select labor union leaders over the abrupt cancellation of the project.
The San Pedro port in 2015 selected Harbor Performance Enhancement Center to develop 80 acres on Terminal Island for a project designed to enhance the efficiency of cargo operations by reducing congestion there, according to the claim. HPEC, the claim said, signed a series of agreements with the port, engaged in years of negotiations, and devoted millions of dollars to project planning and environmental processes.
Harbor Performance Enhancement Center secured $130 million for the project and had public support from Gene Seroka, the L.A. port's executive director, according to the center; it also had investment from Australia's Macquarie Group, one of the world's largest infrastructure investment firms.
But in May, Seroka wrote to Jonathan Rosenthal, the CEO of HPEC, that the port would terminate its agreement with the center, deeming the project to be infeasible? while noting that it had taken longer than the originally anticipated three years to finalize negotiations on the effort.
The damages claim was filed with Los Angeles city on Friday, Dec. 13; such claims are typically precursors to lawsuits.
The bottom line is that we?re in this for the long haul, Rosenthal said in a statement. Our project is an economic and environmental game-changer, creating tens of thousands of jobs for the region, and we want to see it built. It's become abundantly clear that the port is intent on hiding something.
Port officials said they could not comment on the legal action, saying HPEC has its version of what happened and the port has its own. The officials said the HPEC project, a public-private endeavor, was only authorized to create a pilot program that didn't come to fruition.
HPEC's claim also argues that the International Longshore and Warehouse Union was never granted a labor agreement in its bid for the project, although the company indicated the port intended to grant exclusivity of jobs to those union workers, something HPEC said it could not agree to.
Calls to the ILWU were not immediately returned.
HPEC contended the cancellation of the project was the result of backroom deals? between the port and the ILWU.
In June, HPEC filed suit in Los Angeles Superior Court seeking to reverse Seroka's decision to scrub the project. In September, according to HPEC, a judge rejected a city of Los Angeles request to dismiss the case.
HPEC is seeking to recover all costs it has spent on developing the project, as well as any damages it suffered through the process.

Effort to limit warehouses seen as falling short

Some officials in the Inland Empire say standards, including buffers to protect homes, are too weak.
By Paloma Esquivel
Two years ago, Riverside County Supervisor Kevin Jeffries looked around the Inland Empire and saw massive warehouses inching closer and closer to communities.
The region's local governments, he said, were receiving the projects with open arms and little real consideration for their health and quality-of-life impacts.
They?re pretty much welcomed out here. Come on out, bring us the jobs, bring us the property tax revenue and all that's fine, said Jeffries, a former Republican assemblyman. But nobody wants to talk about the impact that the tractor-trailer rigs are having on health and the immediate residents around it. Nobody wants to talk about it, and it's a conversation that's long overdue.
Jeffries pushed for the county to adopt a Good Neighbor Policy? of minimum standards for warehouse projects, including a 1,000-foot buffer between large warehouses and homes. The county approved the Good Neighbor Policy last month. But it had been gutted, Jeffries said. He voted no. We blew it, he said. The standards that were adopted are really no standards at all.
In the last decade, more than 150 million square feet of industrial space, the vast majority of it warehouses, has been built in the Inland Empire, according to real estate services company CBRE.
The boom has brought warehouse projects closer to homes and communities. Some facilities have been built 100 feet or less from residential property lines, despite warnings from state air quality officials, who recommend against people living that close to warehouses because of truck pollution.
City and county officials have generally welcomed the industry, saying warehouses bring desperately needed jobs. And industry advocates say existing guidelines, including under the California Environmental Quality Act, already adequately balance the needs of developers with those of local communities.
Those arguments have largely won the day. Efforts to impose broad standards on warehouse development, or limits on individual projects, have struggled to gain traction, frustrating those who think more needs to be done to protect people from air pollution, noise and traffic.
At the local level, we need some elected officials that are a little more courageous and are willing to fight for the residents, said Sen. Connie Leyva (D-Chino), who says her district has more warehouses than any other place in the country. There seems to be a real lack of concern for the constituents that they represent.
In San Bernardino, where federal officials are considering a massive new airport logistics center whose tenant has long been rumored to be Inc., advocates for months have said that not enough was being done to address environmental and quality- of-life issues that were identified during the project's environmental review.
They have urged the project's developer, Hillwood Enterprises, to adopt a community benefits agreement? that would guarantee measures to limit noise and air pollution from trucks as well as job protections for nearby residents. But those efforts have gone largely ignored, advocates said.
Representatives of Hillwood and Amazon declined to comment. This year an airport official told The Times there was no signed agreement with an end user for the facility.
The environmental justice bureau of the state attorney general's office recently stepped into the debate, writing to federal aviation and airport officials to say that the agencies must conduct further environmental and legal analysis of the project's effects.
Since last year, the attorney general's office has written several letters to local officials asking for more robust environmental analysis of warehouse projects under the California Environmental Quality Act to ensure that the impacts of projects are understood, disclosed, and mitigated to the maximum feasible extent.
Such letters have led to improved reviews, officials with the attorney general's office said. But they account for only a small slice of the large number of warehouses being approved in the region.
To address pollution concerns on a broader scale, Southern California air quality officials in May 2018 voted to craft rules governing warehouses and other freight facilities as indirect sources? of pollution because of the truck traffic that they generate. But they have yet to implement such rules.
In Riverside County, where supervisors took up the Good Neighbor Policy in mid-November, the board in last-minute discussions decided to give individual supervisors the ability to opt out of the policy in their districts. And instead of the 1,000-foot buffer that Jeffries had proposed, they adopted a 300-foot cushion, measured from warehouse loading docks to property lines.
Jeffries, the chairman of the Board of Supervisors, said he would have to opt out of the policy and would instead try to negotiate larger buffers on individual projects. The 300-foot buffer is not going to protect our residents under any circumstances, he said.
In the end, the warehouse industry got a better deal than what they were even asking for, Jeffries said. It was two years of work ... down the drain.
Supervisor Jeff Hewitt, who made the motion for the opt-out provision, also said he would pull out of the standards because he prefers to consider projects on an individual basis.
Finding a balance is what I?m interested in, said Hewitt. You look at all the different information for both sides and you come up with something that will allow people to invest in our area, bring more jobs and still serve the public in a way that doesn't overly affect the neighbors.
It's still unclear which, if any, supervisors may decide to allow the policy to apply to projects in their districts, county officials said.
In San Bernardino, advocates frustrated by the lack of progress on their proposed Community Benefits Agreement? for the airport facility recently decided to appeal directly to Amazon, the rumored tenant, which already has more than a dozen giant warehouses in the Inland Empire.
Last month, the San Bernardino Airport Communities Coalition wrote a letter to Amazon Chief Executive Jeff Bezos, inviting him to meet with community groups to discuss a possible agreement.
And Monday which is Cyber Monday advocates plan to protest outside Amazon warehouses in the region.

How a feud over two jobs tipped the West Coast longshore union toward bankruptcy

A feud that could wind up bankrupting the powerful West Coast dockworkers union began like a scene from a B-grade gangster film, when two men met over a calamari lunch.
According to federal court testimony, Leal Sundet, a burly blond union leader, introduced himself in a Portland, Ore., restaurant to Elvis Ganda, a gray-haired port terminal executive, with the words: I?m the guy that can f? you badly.
At that time, in 2012, Sundet held the second-highest position in the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, which handles every shipping container that crosses West Coast ports. Sundet pressured Ganda to help the ILWU wrest control of the jobs of two dockside workers from a rival union, according to court testimony. The terminal manager told Sundet that he felt as if a gun were being held to his head.
The ILWU, whose 15,000 dockworkers make an average of $171,000 a year plus free healthcare, pursued the two jobs relentlessly for the next four years, staging slowdowns at the Port of Portland and flouting federal court orders. The resulting chaos caused international shipping lines to abandon Portland, ending Oregon-based cargo service for exporters as far inland as Idaho's Snake River.
Ultimately the longshore union prevailed in the jobs dispute, as it often does a hollow victory, considering the terminal had been forced to close. But the menacing tactics backfired so dramatically that the ILWU may face bankruptcy, according to U.S. District Judge Michael Simon, who presided this month over a two-week Portland civil trial that led to a $94-million award to Ganda's company, ICTSI Oregon Inc.
The amount of damages found by the jury is quite high and may result in the bankruptcy of a union that traces its beginnings to at least 1933 and arguably into the 19th century, Simon wrote after the ILWU and its Portland chapter were found liable for unlawful labor practices. He plans to hear arguments Feb. 14 on whether he should uphold or trim the award.
It might seem far-fetched that a dispute over two jobs could financially ruin a union so powerful that all West Coast ports shut down for days when its contract talks break down. But as automation reduces work, the ILWU has sought jobs through turf battles, quitting the AFL-CIO labor federation in 2013 and wrangling with the machinists and other unions.
The Portland jobs tending refrigerated containers were coveted by San Francisco-based leaders of the old-style union, whose members still line up daily at hiring halls, many in the footsteps of fathers and grandfathers. Robert Big Bob? McEllrath, who retired last year as union president, said he saw precedent in the two contested Portland reefer? jobs held since 1974 by members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.
If I let those jobs go and demanded that they be set aside or whatever, it would bleed up and down the whole entire West Coast, McEllrath said in a deposition.
In some ways Sundet, 63, whom McEllrath assigned to pursue the jobs at Portland's Terminal 6, embodies the proudly militant approach of the union founded by the late Harry Bridges, a Marxist who won respect championing civil rights and equality. But Sundet's scorched-earth tactics stymied judges, confounded three Oregon governors, increased costs of trade and affected his reputation among fellow union members, who in 2015 voted him out of his $307,000-a-year post.
Sundet, who did not return phone messages seeking comment, started as a dockworker in the 1980s. He faced skepticism, having come from the Pacific Maritime Assn., the longshore employers? organization. But he worked his way up, gaining attention in 2004 when he addressed a Democratic National Committee panel in Portland concerning homeland security.
The Republican Party views workers as little more than chattel necessary to enhance corporate profits, Sundet said. He recommended boosting port security with multiple measures that would have also increased longshore work.
As a coast committeeman, Sundet served on the panel overseeing the West Coast collective bargaining agreement covering the 29 ports from San Diego to Bellingham, Wash. He stayed in touch with the Portland chapter, where he?d served as president.
According to facts presented to the jury by Judge Simon, Sundet told a Portland terminal manager in 2012 that he might as well tell shipping lines to depart because we?re going to send them packing. Sundet guided the local chapter as members drove trucks and cranes slowly, took indirect routes around the container yard, parked vehicles to block in reefers and faked mechanical problems, the judge said.
Teamsters fumed as hundreds of trucks backed up outside the port. Container ships spent costly extra days in port, or skipped calls on Portland.
Legal gridlock also ensued. While the ILWU pressed ICTSI Oregon to give it the two jobs under terms of the union's West Coast labor contract, company managers said the positions weren't theirs to give. They said that according to their terminal lease, the jobs were controlled by the Port of Portland, which refused to break its contract with the electricians to reassign the work.
Either way, in 2014 the National Labor Relations Board called the ILWU's conduct unlawful. Simon ruled the union had violated his latest injunction.
The next year, shipping lines Hanjin and Hapag-Lloyd decided to leave the port for good, leaving only Westwood, a smaller carrier. As Hanjin's final vessel prepared to go, Mike Radak, a manager at the shipping line, begged employers to get the union to load the ship at a normal pace: We did what the union wanted and we left; now they need to repay the favor.
In 2017, ICTSI Oregon paid $20 million to exit its 25-year lease to operate the terminal, an expense included in the $135 million in damages the company sought from the union. Portland dockworkers displaced from the terminal regained much of their income through a pay guarantee program? in the coast contract. Containers they would have handled went to other West Coast ports, where union members got the work.
In her closing argument, Amanda Gamblin, an attorney for ICTSI, mocked dockworkers who said they were devastated when the terminal closed. It is like stabbing someone with a butter knife 1,000 times and then being devastated when she dies, Gamblin said.
Susan Harriman, an attorney for the union, blamed the closure mainly on ICTSI, saying workers were treated like donkeys and belittled and fired without cause. She said that the company decided to make money on the lawsuit instead of making the terminal a success.
The jury took just 3 1/2 hours to return the verdict and $94-million award, with the ILWU liable for 55% of the damages and Portland Local 8 the other 45%. The union has about $20 million in assets, and Local 8 has $150,000, according to federal filings. Longshore workers at a recent caucus meeting in San Francisco reportedly preferred bankruptcy to assessing members.
A union spokesman declined to be interviewed or to discuss the practical effects of a bankruptcy, which could expose the fiercely independent, private organization to unaccustomed outside influence and scrutiny.
Sundet returned to the Portland chapter for work. On May 24, 2016, he joined a longshore gang, or work group, dispatched to load the last vessel sent by Westwood, which by then had also decided to give up on Portland.
Sundet entered a cab high above the 45,000-ton ship and began operating a crane. Sundet was observed moving slowly and inefficiently, ICTSI manager Jon Lusk wrote in a shift report. At 13:30 he had loaded only six containers.
As the departure deadline approached, the dock foreman told Sundet that a manager wanted to replace him with an experienced operator. Tell him to go f? himself, Sundet replied, and refused to leave the cab, according to Lusk's report, which Sundet subsequently confirmed.
Out of time, the Westwood Columbia departed for Asia with 141 Portland containers aboard. Forty-seven containers remained stranded on the dock.

Port of Long Beach approves $4.3 million for parks, open space projects

The Port of Long Beach was in a giving mood this week.
The Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners on Monday, Nov. 25, awarded more than $4.3 million to fund six projects that will add local green space and enhance parks.
The money comes from the Port of Long Beach Community Grants Program, which has provided $46.4 million to similar green-space projects since its inception in 2016. That makes it, port officials said in a statement, the largest voluntary contribution of its kind by any seaport in the nation. The program is designed to combat and offset the environmental impacts of moving the nation's goods.
Combined with $17.8 million given under a previous program, officials said in a statement, the Port of Long Beach has committed $65 million to efforts improving the health of children, seniors and other populations that live near the harbor.
With these grants, the port is able to improve parks and recreational facilities that benefit areas around Long Beach that are closest to the cargo-movement routes, Long Beach Harbor Commission President Bonnie Lowenthal said in a statement Tuesday, Nov. 26. This program and our environmental initiatives are just part of our effort to be a good neighbor.
Most of the grant money will go to Long Beach's Department of Parks, Recreation and Marine. That department will receive:
$981,280 for Lincoln Park landscaping;
$999,115 for the 51st Street Greenbelt; and
$999,100 for its Drake-Chavez Parks Connection Project.
The city's Department of Health and Human Services, meanwhile, will receive $21,472 for the Stephens Middle School edible garden.
The Salvation Army will receive $670,000 for its Red Shield Youth and Community Center, at Long Beach Boulevard and Spring Street. And Camp Fire Angeles will receive $645,286 for a discovery trail at DeForest Park, 6255 De Forest Ave.
Earlier this year, the port granted $1.3 million to 16 other projects in Long Beach and Paramount to improve air quality at schools and community facilities.

Tariffs Will Boost Prices on Toys and Smartphones- But Not Until Next Year

Over the last year and a half, retailers have watched the dizzying pace of the U.S.-China trade war with a growing sense of trepidation.
When the Trump administration announced this year that consumer goods such as shoes and clothing could face a 15% duty, companies chose to get ahead of the tariff price hikes and stocked up on items as early as the summer. That means shoppers shouldn't see higher prices reflected on their receipts on Black Friday or during this holiday season.
But if a new round of tariffs goes into effect in mid-December as planned, people could begin paying more for toys or big-ticket items such as laptops and smartphones by early next year.
In 2020, it will be a big deal, said James Bohnaker, economist at research and analysis firm IHS Markit.
Earlier rounds of tariffs levied by the Trump administration on Chinese goods largely targeted so-called intermediate goods, such as aluminum and plastic sheets, which are not finished products that can be bought in stores.
The Trump administration originally intended to subject consumer goods such as toys, laptops, smartphones and digital cameras to a 15% duty by Sept. 1, but put that off until Dec. 15, citing the potential effect on American shoppers during the holiday season.
Even with the delay, the impending tariffs have still been a major concern for the consumer electronics industry.
Since the tit-for-tat trade war began in spring of last year between the U.S. and China, that industry was hit by $15.5 billion in tariff costs that were either absorbed by manufacturers or passed on to consumers. The higher costs mostly applied to components and tech accessories such as cables and cellphone cases, said Rick Kowalski, senior manager of industry and business intelligence at the Consumer Technology Assn. trade group. In September alone, the consumer tech industry shouldered $2 billion in tariff costs.
If the new tariffs on consumer goods go into effect Dec. 15, companies up and down the supply chain, as well as retailers, will have to decide how they?ll handle the additional costs.
Everybody is in a pinch, Kowalski said. That $15 billion has to come from somewhere.
For some companies, that might mean passing the cost on to the consumer. JLab Audio Chief Executive Win Cramer told CNBC in August that the Carlsbad, Calif., company's headphones would probably cost more as a result of tariffs. He also predicted that discounting would not be as strong this holiday season as it has been in the past.
We've never seen this before, Cramer said. We don't have a playbook to follow.
The toy industry is also grappling with how to plan for the unpredictable. Companies have held off on investing in new product lines because of uncertainties over tariffs and pricing, said Rebecca Mond, vice president of federal government affairs for the Toy Assn. trade group.
In some cases, companies have chosen to absorb the cost of the tariffs, rather than risk losing customers.
Tom's Model Inc., a 39-year-old toy company in downtown Los Angeles, upped its orders for a signature product, a battery-operated canine called the Lucky Dog, and ate a 10% price increase. The company has sold the $5.99 toy since its early days and it has nostalgic appeal, said Tommy Yip, owner of Tom's Model and son of the founder.
My father was known for that specific piece of toy, he said. I do want to retain our customer loyalty.
Sometimes, though, negotiations with other players in the supply chain don't go as expected.
Eric Tung of Torrance-based Fera, a ski clothing specialty company, thought he was in the clear when he ordered this year's batch of insulated apparel from his vendors in China. The goods were in transit before Sept. 1, when the first round of tariffs on consumer goods was implemented.
But his items were hit with the 15% markup anyway. Tung tried negotiating with retailers in hopes that they would share the burden but was told they didn't want their margins affected.
As a small, niche company, Tung said, Fera was forced to absorb some of the cost and pass the rest to consumers. A ski jacket that would cost $200 at wholesale is now priced for retail at $220, a 3% to 5% price increase, Tung said.
I?m not Patagonia or North Face, he said. I can't say I?m raising my prices and you?ll still buy from me. It's not good for anyone consumer or business when you have big dramatic price increases.

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Tyranny by rulemaking: Susan Shelley

There's a difference between being governed? and being ruled. It's the difference between freedom and tyranny.
That's what's at stake in California as an unelected, unaccountable board of bureaucrats rules? the state's trucking industry into ruins.
The California Air Resources Board is attempting to force diesel trucks off the road. Its latest new rule will require truck manufacturers to build electric-powered trucks and force companies to report to the state government about their shipping practices to assist future rulemaking.
The proposed Advanced Clean Trucks Regulation was unveiled last summer to meet what a CARB fact sheet called very challenging mandates. These include federal air-quality standards and the state's mandates for 40% reduction in greenhouse gases by 2030, 80% reduction in greenhouse gases by 2050, and 50% reduction in petroleum use by 2030.
According to CARB's July 2 fact sheet, Meeting all of these goals requires a bold transformation in all sectors including stationary, industrial, residential, and transportation with significant contributions from public agencies, private businesses and individuals.
If California was governed instead of ruled, elected officials accountable to the voters would look at exactly what is meant by bold transformation? and 'significant contributions. There would be public hearings in key committees of the Legislature to consider costs and timelines. There would be an effort to cure the problem without killing the patient.
But California is ruled, not governed. The 2006 Global Warming Solutions Act, AB32, put the wholly unaccountable California Air Resources Board in charge of regulating greenhouse gas emissions statewide. CARB has unchecked power to write rules that can bankrupt any business or industry in the state.
For example, in 2008, CARB banned diesel truck engines manufactured before 2010. More than a million trucks operating in California, including 625,000 that were registered out of state, were suddenly illegal. Under the Statewide Truck and Bus Rule, existing diesel engines could only be operated if they were retrofitted with a diesel particulate filter at a cost of about $15,000. Otherwise, the equipment had to be replaced.
The overall cost of the Truck and Bus Rule was estimated at $10 billion.
Compliance has been a challenge, CARB admitted in a presentation last December. Most fleets operating in California are small businesses 20 or fewer trucks, and the recession 'significantly impacted the trucking industry.
Diesel particulate filters caused problems, too. A lawsuit against CARB by the Alliance for California Business documented fires and mechanical malfunctions caused by the filters, and unearthed a study by CARB itself that showed concerns about the functioning of the devices.
But rulers don't have to be concerned with the problems of the little people. Thanks to a provision added to 2017's Senate Bill 1 the gas tax increase compliance with the Truck and Bus Rule is now tied to DMV registration. Over 80,000 trucks operating in California as of last December are illegal on the state's roads effective Jan. 1, 2020. Small businesses with older trucks were faced with a choice between spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to replace working vehicles, or selling them at fire sale prices to someone in another state or country. Some business owners simply gave up and closed down.
The new Advanced Clean Trucks rule targets truck manufacturers and companies that ship goods in California. The goal, CARB says, is to accelerate the first wave of zero-emission trucks. When compared to diesel vehicles, CARB says, zero-emissions trucks are two to five times more energy efficient, reduce dependence on petroleum, and reduce GHG emissions substantially.
Under the proposed rule, Manufacturers who certify Class 2B-8 chassis or complete vehicles with combustion engines would be required to sell zero-emission trucks as an increasing percentage of their annual California sales from 2024 to 2030. By 2030, zero-emission truck/chassis sales would need to be 50% of class 4 8 straight trucks sales and 15% of all other truck sales.
Or else.
Then there's a reporting requirement for large employers including retailers, manufacturers, brokers and others. They?d have to give the state information about shipments and shuttle services. Owners of fleets with 100 or more trucks would be required to file reports, too. This information would help identify future strategies to ensure that fleets purchase available zero-emission trucks and place them in service where suitable to meet their needs, CARB's fact sheet states.
According to the agency, most trucks and vans operate less than 100 miles per day and several zero-emission configurations are available to serve that need. What about longer or less predictable routes? As technology advances, zero-emission trucks will become suitable for more applications, CARB declares.
In the meantime, your tax dollars are needed to subsidize the higher upfront cost of zero-emission trucks and any credits that are offered to offset the expense of electricity. You might even have to pay higher electricity rates to cover the cost of installing charging infrastructure.
There's more than a little bit of hypocrisy in the government's claims that diesel trucks are a threat to public health. The highest level of exposure is experienced by people living near ports, rail yards and freeways where diesel fuel is used to operate heavy duty trucks, vehicles and machinery, CARB says. Yet local governments continue to approve new multi-family housing construction so close to freeways that Caltrans workers could reach over and paint the kitchens. Shouldn't CARB say something about that?
Air quality is obviously important, and genuine public health data belongs in the discussion along with economic data. Poverty affects health, too. California has the highest poverty rate in the nation when the cost of living is taken into account, and the cost of living rises when the cost of trucking increases due to state regulations.
But CARB answers to no one. Like other rulers throughout history, the agency is building itself a palace, spending over $400 million on a new building in Riverside, including $2.4 million for what CARB chair Mary Nichols called a selection of world-class art by artists whose work embraces environmental and equity themes.
It's good to be king.
The proposed Advanced Clean Trucks rule is currently in its 45-day public comment? period. If you?d like to express your opinion, visit and click act2019. A public hearing will be held on Dec. 12. Let them know what you think.
Susan Shelley is an editorial writer and columnist for the Southern California News Group. Twitter: @Susan_Shelley

Land Swap Between Ports Paves Way For Pier B Rail Project

Just west of the 710 Freeway, where industrial warehouses push up against Long Beach's busy port, plans for an $870 million project are beginning to take shape. The Pier B On-Dock Rail Support Facility will expand the San Pedro Bay ports' ocean-to-rail capabilities, another step in a collaborative effort to lower emissions from diesel drayage trucks.
"Every long train we send in and out of here eliminates about 750 truck trips off the freeways. We think that's a very good and worthwhile activity," Port of Long Beach Capital Program Executive Duane Kenagy told the Business Journal. "Rail is one of the most efficient means of moving goods from an emissions standpoint, and [helps reduce] traffic congestion as well."
Since spring of last year, things have been quiet around the planned mega project, but a recent land swap between the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles has been viewed as a sign of progress by port officials and businesses located within the project's footprint. "I was glad to see that they've done some property swapping and have had some positive interactions with the City of Los Angeles, because that's always been a concern: how will they get along?" property owner Lee Wilson said.
Some properties located within the footprint of the Pier B On-Dock Rail Support Facility project were owned jointly by the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, necessitating a recent property swap.
Wilson"s family has owned one of the properties in the project's path since 1965. In 2009, he received a notice of preparation, a document describing the Port of Long Beach's plans for the project, which would require him to sell his property to make space for the planned rail yard. "We're right in the middle of the project. They?ll take the property," Wilson said, dryly summing up the situation. "We would like to keep it forever, but we're not against progress. And our family has been aligned with the port for over 100 years."
The grandson of a drawbridge operator, Wilson said he recognized the value the port has brought to his family and their land. "The property and the business that's in that building, for the last 60 years, have been totally dependent on the port," he said. The parcel is currently home to LAN Logistics, a logistics company specializing in large and military cargo. "The property is not worth very much without the port," Wilson added.
Because of his family's history of collaboration and symbiosis with the port, Wilson said he supports the plan, even if it means losing his property. "If I had to criticize anything, I would have to criticize the time that it's taken," he said. The long gestation period of the project has presented a challenge, especially for his tenant, Wilson explained. "How do I manage a business, not knowing whether I'm still going to be in business a year from now?" he asked.
Since the port's plans were initially announced ten years ago, local businesses and property owners have been on tenterhooks, unsure when exactly they'll be asked to relocate. Some are frustrated by a lack of updates on the progress of the project.
"Since they've received approval from the city council, there's been little to no communication from the port about what's going on," Stan Janocha, chief operating officer of Superior Electrical Advertising, said. "So we really don't know what's going on." While his company wouldn't be required to relocate to make space for the rail yard, Janocha said the massive project going up just a few feet from its offices might force it to.
The Long Beach City Council approved the necessary environmental impact report (EIR) for the Pier B rail facility in January 2018. The $870 million budget for the project was approved in September of that year. In March of this year, the port closed the Ninth Street Railroad Crossing in preparation of the project's construction phase.
The recently approved land swap, in which the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles exchanged properties that were previously owned jointly by both ports, marks the next step in the project's long road to completion. Those properties were originally acquired in the 1990s, when the ports bought them from Southern Pacific Transportation Company and Union Pacific Railroad. They were the sites of auxiliary rail routes made obsolete by the ports' joint purchase of the main railroad that now forms the Alameda Corridor.
"It's comforting to see that the city and the port are making that happen," Wilson said. "At least we're seeing the light at the end of the tunnel of this process." The port expects the new rail yard to be completed in 2032, according to a press release. Until construction starts, Wilson and his tenant, LAN Logistics, are working to mitigate the impacts on their future operations.
"We're standing firm by each other's side and working with the port to get the outcome we need," LAN President John Donaldson told the Business Journal in an e-mail. He hopes his company can be relocated within the overweight corridor, given its focus on heavy cargo.
An agreement between the cities of Long Beach and Los Angeles to support property acquisitions within each city's limits, as well as the land swap between ports, pave the way for the Pier B On-Dock Rail Facility project to move forward. Both were approved by the city council on November 5.
"We're now embarking on the engineering and eventually the construction and acquisition of property," Kenagy said. "Both ports are looking at areas of cooperation and this effort has certainly been a very positive experience of both ports working together to address a fairly complicated real estate transaction," he added. "That's obviously very good for the future of the San Pedro Bay."

Trade War Taking Its Toll At Home: Jobs, Commerce At Risk, Study Shows

Increased tariffs on imported and exported goods moving through the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports have cost American consumers billions of dollars, distanced U.S. businesses from foreign markets and have contributed to a dramatic drop in activity at the ports, a new study concludes.
And the longer the tariffs stay in place, the greater the long-term damage to the U.S. economy. That's according to the study commissioned by the Port of Los Angeles and released in a news conference featuring the port and representatives of industries harmed by the trade conflict.
Researchers calculated a state-by-state, congressional district-by-district analysis of the current impact of the tariffs imposed on imported goods and the tariffs imposed by other countries on U.S. exports. Officials with the port and other associations added a forward-looking component to the study, looking at the potential for long-term shifts in supply chains and markets that will remain in place long after the current trade conflict has ended.
"This is not meant just to be a retrospective on what has happened. It is also a forward projection on what will happen," said Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Gene Seroka. "This truly is an issue of national and international significance. America needs to know the impact of tariffs on its economy."
During the past two years, a trade war has escalated between the U.S. and several other countries, with disagreements between the U.S. and China leading to tariffs that are higher than they have been in decades.
The impact is evident at the ports, where a massive amount of the materials moving in and out of them is subject to tariffs here or abroad. According to data released by the Port of Los Angeles, October 2019 represented 12 consecutive months of declining U.S. exports, 25% fewer ship calls, and a 19.1% decrease in cargo volume compared to that of a year ago.
It is not surprising that the impact would be seen at the ports, as 52.7% of total cargo coming into the San Pedro Bay ports is subject to import tariffs and 28.8% of total cargo moving out through the ports is subject to export tariffs.
The tariff-for-tariff conflict has had three impacts on U.S. residents, businesses and workers, the study shows.
Import tariffs increase costs for U.S. consumers and producers directly. That means that U.S. consumers pay more out-of-pocket for goods as businesses recoup the increased cost of imported goods created by the higher tariffs. And they drive up the final cost of U.S.-made goods that include imported raw materials or components.
"[These tariffs are] being paid by U.S. businesses. It's not being paid by China," said Jonathan Gold, spokesman for Americans for Free Trade, at the study's release.
The second impact is that goods produced overseas become relatively cheaper to manufacture than those produced here, putting U.S.-made goods at a cost disadvantage. It becomes cheaper to create goods from supplies and components that are not subject to tariffs.
Finally, the trade barriers encourage companies overseas to look for suppliers outside of the U.S. for products. And this impact may be one of the hardest to reverse, even with a new trade agreement with China, because during the period of high tariffs, overseas companies will have forged bonds with suppliers that they are not likely to break immediately--if ever.
"This is at a time when our trading partners are engaging in freer trade with each other. China actually has lowered tariffs on products from other countries," Rufus Yerxa, president of the National Foreign Trade Council, said. "This is now the greatest threat facing American businesses and farmers. The longer these tariffs stay in place, the harder it will be to recover these partners that we have given away."
Declining exports are an indication that overseas customers are turning away from the U.S. as a supplier, particularly in the agricultural sector, according to the study. Exports from all 50 states have been hit by tariffs ranging from 26-51%, the study concluded.
The impact has been a 10% reduction in U.S. exports of animal products and feed in a year, researchers found. Angela Hofmann, co-executive director of Farmers for Free Trade, said the knock-on effect has been that farmers are not investing in new equipment and capital expenditures as they are uncertain about their access to foreign markets in the future.
And in the end, higher tariffs have not had the long-term impact on issues of contention with overseas countries--especially China--that U.S. industries and companies most wanted. Agreements over issues like intellectual rights violations and others have remained unsolved, as U.S. goods and products become more noncompetitive in the world marketplace and imported products become more expensive at home.
"If we want to pressure China on issues like IP theft, we need to work with our partners," Gold said. "Right now, we're imposing or threatening tariffs on countries we actually like. And it hasn't gotten us a deal with China."

Evergreen ties up with BlueX to provide online booking

Evergreen Line has entered the ranks of ocean carriers offering online booking capability, joining competitors Hapag-Lloyd, Maersk Line, and CMA CGM.
Through a partnership with the software provider BlueX Trade, Evergreen will provide shippers and non-vessel-operating common carriers (NVOs) with the ability to book digitally with the Taiwan-based container line across its 'thousands of routes, and book within minutes directly with Evergreen, the companies said in a statement Tuesday.
BlueX said it is also building a 'trade-matching network that integrates the logistics ecosystem required to move a shipment from door to door, with future enhancements to include services such as freight financing, trucking, and insurance.
Evergreen Marine decided to partner with BlueX and will launch with the platform because the solution has the potential to be the most effective monetization channel for all of our space, globally, said Eric Wang, executive vice president of marketing at Evergreen Marine Corp.
Digital online booking platforms for ocean freight have expanded widely in the last year, with both container lines and global freight forwarders offering such capability. The tools are, in the near term, primarily designed to lure either spot freight or volume from shippers that would normally be outside the typical sales reach of carriers and global third-party logistics providers (3PLs).
We believe carriers open to connecting the industry through technology have the potential to unlock huge value from their existing network, said Sean O?Malley, CEO of BlueX Trade. By joining the CarrierX Initiative, carriers get the latest technology solution along with the ability to monetize their container volume with new revenue sources.
BlueX Trade was founded in 2018 and is based in the United States and Taiwan.

Wanted: Truly interoperable LA-LB chassis pools

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NYSA backs NY-NJ port exit from Waterfront Commission

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Riverfront rail line

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US truck drivers racking up speeding violations

The number of violations issued to truckers for driving 15 mph or more above limits rose 10.3 percent last year.
Commerce moves fast across the United States, sometimes too fast. The number of speeding violations issued to US truck drivers increased 7.8 percent in 2018, climbing to 146,945 violations, according to a review of Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) data.
That followed a 1.1 percent increase in 2017, and a 9.7 percent leap in 2016, the FMCSA data showed. The number of tickets issued by state and federal authorities for speeding 1 to 10 miles per hour (mph) over the speed limit dropped in 2017, before rising again in 2018.

It's not clear whether the moving violations data, searchable on FMCSA's analysis & information website, represents a broad increase in speeding or a law enforcement crackdown. Even if each of the violations went to an individual driver, which is not necessarily the case, the number would still represent less than 5 percent of the 3.5 million US truck drivers the American Trucking Associations (ATA) estimates are on the road.
What is clear is the trend is long-term, with the number of violations rising for at least three years.
Shippers should be concerned. An increase in speeding and other unsafe driving violations by truckers could translate into more accidents, more lives lost, and more damaged goods. In supply chains, faster doesn't always mean safer and more efficient.
Speeding involved in one-fifth of fatal truck accidents
The total number of people killed in truck-related crashes in 2018 was 4,951, and there were 4,415 fatal accidents involving large trucks, according to another source, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NTSA's) Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS).
Speeding was a factor in 839 of those 4,415 crashes--about 19 percent. That number dropped slightly from its recent peak of 843 in 2017. But the number of fatal truck crashes involving speeding shot up 21.3 percent, from 695 to 841, from 2014 through 2016 alone.
Unlike the FMCSA moving violations data, which is limited to truck drivers, it's not clear from the FARS data available to the public on NHTSA's website whether the truck was the vehicle speeding in these fatal crashes, or another vehicle. But the trendline is not good.
A NHTSA overview of fatal motor vehicle crashes in 2018 released last month shows a 2.4 percent decrease in the overall number of people killed in US motor vehicle accidents last year, with 913 fewer fatalities. However, the number of truck-crash deaths rose 0.9 percent.
The causes for the long-term rise in speeding, truck accidents, and fatalities isn't easy to pinpoint. Some suggest the electronic logging device (ELD) mandate has contributed to the total, but the trend predates the mandate, introduced in December 2017, by several years.
Despite the ups and downs of the economy since 2014, there are more trucks on US highways, traveling more vehicle miles, than ever before. And truck drivers are being asked to deliver within strict time limits, as more businesses promise same-day and next-day service.
More violations at higher speeds
From 2015 through 2018, the overall number of speeding violations issued to truck drivers rose 19.5 percent, the FMCSA data shows, with the number of tickets for speeding 15 mph or more beyond the speed limit increasing 30.3 percent.
Tickets for speeding 11 to 14 mph above the limit rose 6.8 percent last year, compared with 9.2 percent in 2017. Violations for speeding 6 to 10 mph beyond the limit jumped 7.9 percent, compared with a 0.1 percent drop in 2017.

From 2015 through 2018, the number of tickets issued to truckers traveling 11 to 14 mph above the speed limit rose 40 percent to 70,055 violations, out of a total 146,945 violations. Violations for driving 6 to 10 mph faster than allowed rose 16.4 percent, the FMCSA data shows.
The number of violations issued for speeding 1 to 5 mph over the limit rose 3.4 percent last year, compared with a 10.1 percent decrease in 2017. Over the three-year period beginning in 2015, the number of 1 to 5 mph speeding violations dropped 10.2 percent.
Speeding through work zones
The biggest increase, however, was in the number of tickets handed out for speeding in a construction or work zone, a whopping 85.9 percent increase since 2015 and a 20.8 percent year-over-year increase in 2018, according to the FMCSA data.
Work-zone speeding violations for truckers rose from 3,842 in 2015 to 7,142 in 2018, and year-to-date in 2019 the total is 4,306, according to the FMCSA. Neither FMCSA nor NHTSA tracks the number of highway and arterial street work zones nationwide.
The size of that increase suggests it is due to tougher enforcement, as state police crack down on drivers who speed through work zones. Pennsylvania, for example, is rolling out a new pilot program testing automated work-zone speed enforcement on its interstate highways.
A crackdown does appear necessary. The number of fatal work zone crashes involving big trucks increased 16.1 percent to 216 in 2017, the last year for which data is available, according to the National Work Zone Safety Information Clearinghouse.
Tougher enforcement or more speeders?
The rise in the number of speeding violations may reflect tougher enforcement more than an actual increase in speeding, but the growing number of fatal accidents in which speeding is a factor points to a problem with speed the US logistics community can't ignore.
The problem may be most acute at smaller trucking firms that only adopted ELDs last year or are not yet in compliance. A recent study by three university researchers found unsafe driving violations increased at smaller trucking firms in the wake of the ELD mandate last year.
The study is based on a survey of inspection data, accidents, and violations at carriers of various sizes from January 2017 through September 2018, before and after the ELD mandate took effect in December 2017, and including periods of light? and full enforcement.
The authors Alex Scott of Northeastern University, Andrew Balthrop of the University of Arkansas, and Jason W. Miller of Michigan State University did find the mandate unequivocally? improved hours-of-service (HOS) compliance but may have encouraged unsafe driving.
The study found the number of unsafe driving and speeding violations rose faster post-mandate among small carriers and independent drivers than among larger fleets.
Out of the 189,406 speeding violations reported in the period of the study, 47,143 were handed to drivers at carriers with 21 to 100 trucks. The same group also had the largest number of unsafe driving violations, 63,935 out of 268,427, according to the report.
Speeding increased by 31 percent for independent owner-operators, 15.9 percent for two to six truck fleets, 10.6 percent for six to 20 trucks, and 16.5 percent for fleets of 21 to 100 trucks, the authors said in their report, Did the Electronic Logging Device Mandate Reduce Accidents??
Compared to large asset-based carriers, drivers for smaller carriers were cited in much higher numbers after the ELD mandate went into effect, the researchers said. When it came to accidents, gains from fatigue reduction were offset by increases in unsafe driving behavior.
The Small Business in Transportation Coalition (SBTC) argues the study's findings support suspension of the ELD mandate, or a broad class exemption for small trucking firms, and it is pursuing both. The study itself doesn't offer any suggestions on the mandate or policy.
Putting on the brakes
Are truckers being forced? to speed by hours of service restrictions and ELDs, or by dispatchers and deadlines? Drivers do have agency, meaning they can make a choice, although they may not feel free to make the right choice when a paycheck is riding on on-time delivery.
But in the era of electronic logging and truck tracking, there's no excuse for motor carriers. The speed of each truck is recorded, and with routing and dispatching software in real time or close to it, it should be evident when and where drivers violate state and local speed limits.
Technology is making it harder for a legitimate carrier to turn a blind eye to driver speeding or say I didn't know? when questioned about it. And the risk of an accident, which could lead to jury awards in the millions of dollars, is much greater than the risk of a missed delivery.
Drivers who believe they are being forced? to speed to make up time lost due to congestion or because of delivery demands that can't be met during legal driving hours have the option of filing a complaint with the FMCSA under the Driver Coercion rule, which went into effect in 2017.
That rule doesn't provide immediate relief to a driver en route in a truck cab, but FMCSA can impose significant penalties on carriers, brokers, receivers, and shippers found to have coerced a driver, even when that coercion didn't result in a violation of federal safety rules.
Shippers and receivers also need to reduce the perceived need for speed by cutting detention time and by matching lane lengths and trip times to hours of service rules. A shipper may not know a driver has only two hours left, but should know a 600-mile run is not 'same-day."
The data generated by the ELD mandate was supposed to accomplish this, but apparently not enough data is being shared by carriers, intermediaries, and shippers. And some shippers, hopefully fewer, are still willing to let the truck driver pick up the slack in their supply chains.

Flock's freight matching migrates LTL to truckload

Freight matching technology focuses on optimizing cargo movement within a single transportation mode, but San Diego-based Flock Freight is working to flow LTL cargo into a truckload environment. Photo credit:
The digital freight matching movement intended to overlay available loads from shippers and brokers with available capacity from carriers is well under way in the domestic trucking industry.
But San Diego-based broker Flock Freight has a different concept around optimizing the movement of less-than-truckload (LTL) cargo than traditional freight matching brokers or marketplaces, which largely focus on truckload freight.
Flock, led by CEO Oren Zaslansky, aims to shift freight that would ordinarily move with LTL carriers to truckload carriers making multiple stops. Essentially, Flock's technology sets out to aggregate freight through scheduled stops in lieu of what LTL carriers do through physical terminals. It's also targeting something that the burgeoning crop of digital freight brokers and broker-enabling software providers don't: incentivize switching to a lower-cost mode.
Zaslansky grew up in a trucking family both his parents worked for different van lines before each got into freight forwarding. At 21, he started his own truckload carrier, which eventually grew to 120 trucks. Not wanting to compete with the might of the likes of Knight and Swift, he started a third-party logistics provider (3PL), SolSource Logistics, buying every mode of transportation. Buying LTL capacity was awful. It was expensive, it was poor service, there was always damage.
Terminal inefficiency
He told he sees the traditional LTL hub-and-spoke model as resource-intensive and not as efficient as it could be, as the legs that lead to consolidation in the terminals don't add value for the shipper.
The aggregation is virtual [with the Flock model], not literal, he said. If you were gonna build an LTL industry today, this is how you?d do it, not with a terminal environment.
Zaslansky said the average capital expenditure and operating expenditure of LTL is 2.5 times higher than full truckload (FTL), so by grouping together shipments algorithmically, LTL freight can get the benefits of truckload rates and service.
That's what we?re going after, taking LTL and turning it algorithmically into carpools, he said. People have combined parcels, but no one has looked at the other freight industries.
Zaslansky said the unconventional approach, if successful, would obviously have profound impacts on modal choice, saying he is aiming to functionally reduce the size of LTL and increase the size of full truckload.
Shippers can ship a full pallet [of] LTL as FTL, but only pay for their part of the FTL, he said.
Flock Freight, previously known as AuptiX, has raised $20 million in venture funding, according to Crunchbase, although Zaslansky said he has actually raised $40 million. (Some funding is not captured by publicly available databases).
Origin density
The company operates in lanes from cities where it can create origin density. I don't want a fan of freight from LA, Zaslansky said. You can't carpool a pick in LA and one in Seattle with a drop in Chicago and one in Miami. We use pricing to encourage and discourage capacity in certain lanes to build the right density. It's demand-shaping.
Flock currently has that density in Los Angeles, the San Francisco Bay Area, and New York, while it's close to getting density in Houston. The company is paid per load by the shipper, although Zaslansky said Flock is experimenting with subscription models and eyeing some form of loyalty programs.
There's a lot of skepticism and this industry doesn't like to change, he said. But the LTL tariff system doesn't work. Carriers inflate it and discount it. Truckload doesn't operate that way. Truckload is trying to get to 7 percent [margin]. Our model is not to give bigger discounts, ours is we do more carpooling.
As an example, a traditional truckload carrier might do one pickup on Monday and one drop on Friday, making $2,000 on the move. The Flock multi-stop move would see the carrier make three picks on Monday and three drops on Friday. It's more work but they make $2,500. That's 20 percent more. I think that math is really compelling, and I have a history in this industry.
Zaslansky said he considers the biggest roadblock to efficiency the 'simultaneity problem, where demand is not synced with capacity when it's available. I think you get the demand first, he said.