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The Pre-Trip Report | Jan. 24 – 29


Short Mile Case Against Swift Begins Friday

While the case filing may be old, plaintiffs say they have been collecting new material since 2004 and are confident their side will be convincing. If you feel you have anything to contribute to this suite, contact Hagens Bermen by emailing [email protected] or call 206-623-7292.

The case, Leonel Garza v. Swift Transportation Co., was filed after Garza filed a class action complaint against Swift, stating he was paid per dispatched mile, and was shorted on his pay. The lawsuit claims that Swift’s use of a mileage calculation software program, the Household Mover’s Guide, shorted drivers’ pay by 7 to 10 percent.

We have a lot of legal arguments to back us up here because we’ve been litigating this case for several years. They can’t then go, ˜oh, we want to arbitrate,’ because they (Swift) lost essentially on some very important issues, Aragon said. We are just waiting to have that hearing and get a couple of these things resolved. As soon as that happens, we are ready to get this thing going and to reach some resolution.

Revised Health Care Plan Costs Challenge Carriers and Truck Drivers

Revisions to health care plan laws are hitting small carriers hard in the first financial quarter of 2012. Initial responses drive more responsibility to owner/operator truckers and fleet drivers, according to a new study put out by Transport Capital Partners this week.

According to the survey, 43% of carriers are reacting to these changes by shifting more costs to employees, and 37% are asking employees to pay more for family coverage. 29% of surveyed carriers are feeling the effects of increased costs but haven’t developed an alternative plan. So far, no significant contingency plans are in the works to offset rising costs from independent truckers, making fleet carriers cautious about hiring plans through 2013. Since qualified driver shortages are a main concern for the transportation industry in 2012, this only adds to the negotiation process headaches they currently experience.

The survey shows that smaller carriers are being hit harder by the recent changes than larger carriers, with 39% of smaller carriers saying costs are up significantly compared to 24% of larger carriers.

Montana Forms Contingency Plan as State Truck Drivers Threaten Strike

A union covering about 300 Montana Department of Transportation truck drivers says it may strike amid an ongoing dispute over pay freezes. The workers have been without a contract for more than a year, like many state bargaining units displeased with pay freezes since 2008.  Amid heated mediation procedures the Teamsters Local 2 union says workers authorized a strike if the state doesn’t respond quickly. Montana officials say they have a contingency plan to make sure other workers plow the highways in the event of a strike. Chief labor negotiator Paula Stoll says the state can’t authorize pay increases since the Legislature didn’t provide extra money.

Kenworth Announces Hands-Free Communication Upgrade for all Class 8 Models

In an effort to reduce distracted driving and comply with hands-free calling legislation for drivers in both Canada and the US, Kenworth has announced the introduction of its NavPlus multi-function communication system.

“Communication is still vitally important to drivers, and Kenworth NavPlus fully complies with US federal and Canadian provincial regulations by offering hands-free cell phone calls via Bluetooth connections and voice commands,” said Michelle Harry, Kenworth special projects marketing manager.

NavPlus offers hands-free phone capability, true-truck navigation, iPod and MP3 integration, diagnostics, gauges, camera inputs and a host of other features. NavPlus is standard equipment on Kenworth Class 8 trucks ordered with the premium interior package, and is available as an option on all Kenworth trucks.

Big Carriers Report Big Gains in Late 2011

The last financial quarter of 2011 treated big carriers well, with increasing revenues predicted for first quarter 2012. While qualified driver shortage continues to be one of the main concerns of carrier fleets, profits continue to rise for Knight Transportation, Celadon Group and Swift Transportation.

Knight Transportation Inc. was the big winner as they reported an increase in total revenue by 19% to $224.1 million from $188.3 million in 2010.

Celadon reported net income increased 86.2% to $5.4 million in the 2011 quarter from $2.9 million for the same quarter last year.

Total Revenue for Swift 10.3% to $860.7 million and net revenue increased 5.1% to $695.3 million compared to the same quarter of 2010. Earnings per diluted share was $0.29 compared to $0.28 per share in the same quarter of 2010. Trucking Revenue, which excludes fuel surcharges, increased 4.2% to $600.4 million. The company’s Weekly Trucking Revenue per Tractor of $3,018 exceeded $3,000 for the third quarter in a row.

Armed Robber Targeting Truckers Slapped with Own Shotgun, Arrested

Police in Alabama arrested 19-year-old Chauncey Philan  Thursday morning after they said he tried to rob a delivery truck driver at a  Food World. Philan was one of two alleged robbers who targeted truck drivers  and remains a person of interest in 3 other robberies in surrounding areas of Mobile.

At 6:15 a.m. Thursday, Philan targeted a  delivery driver at the Food World, but was disarmed by the trucker and chased off.  The victim took the shotgun from Philan and struck him with it, Mobile police Cpl. Chris Levy said.

After the incident was reported by the trucker, Philan was tracked down in his  house and arrested. Philan is being charged with three counts of first-degree robbery, and he could  face more charges out of Chickasaw and Prichard.

Truck Company Litigator Says FMCSA’s Revised HOS Rule Still Not Enough

Daniel W. Munley, chairman of the American Association for Justice’s Trucking Litigation Group, said in a statement that the rules are not strict enough to reduce fatigued driving. Trucking Litigation Group FMCSA

“While the FMCSA does reduce a commercial motor vehicle driver’s maximum workweek by 12 hours, the new rules allow drivers to get back on the road too quickly after working what is still up to 70 hours in a single week,” Munley said in a statement. “This rest period is too short. Long-haul drivers will remain fatigued as they get back to work.”

The FMCSA also implemented a rule that truck drivers who work the maximum hours a week must rest for at least two nights after between 1 a.m. and 5 p.m. Trucking company representatives have stated that the new HOS rules are more than enough time to keep over the road drivers rested, and are now infringing on their salaries in the name of safety. More news as this develops.

Diesel Prices Drop For First Time in Three Weeks

As illustrated in our on-highway diesel fuel index, average U.S. diesel prices dropped for the first time in 3 weeks, but only by less than a tenth of a cent for each. The current averages for diesel is $3.848, down from last week’s $3.854.

For diesel, the only two regions that didn’t see a price decrease were New England, where the average diesel price rose by one tenth of a cent to $4.077, and California, where prices rose by half a cent to $4.121. As usual, California claims the highest average diesel prices in the country.


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