Truckers blast freight brokers in comments to FMCSA

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is currently accepting public comment on broker transparency issues — and truckers have not held back in expressing their opinions.

From now through October 19, FMCSA is accepting comments on two separate petitions regarding transparency in transactions with freight brokers submitted by the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) and the Small Business in Transportation Coalition (SBTC).

The petitions come after the issue of unscrupulous freight brokers became a major hot button topic in trucking in the spring of 2020. A group of truckers spent weeks parked on Constitution Avenue in Washington, D.C. to bring attention to the issue, and they were eventually rewarded for their efforts with a meeting with then-Acting Administrator of the FMCSA Jim Mullen and Mark Meadows, White House Chief of Staff.

The OOIDA petition asks the FMCSA to require that brokers to provide an electronic copy of each transaction record automatically within 48 hours after the contractual service has been completed. 

The SBTC petition asks that FMCSA amend regulations to prohibit brokers from coercing truckers to waive their right to review the record of the transaction as a condition of doing business.

So far, 858 comments have been received. A large percentage of the commenters appear to be members of the Sikh community, which has a large presence in the U.S. trucking industry.

Check out a sample of what commenters are saying below.

Sandra Grover:

“Broker transparency is becoming a.SEVERE issue with disruptions in the food supply caused by this pandemic.The price gouging is ongoing.postings yesterday was for 84 cents. nobody should be required to pay someone to haul the freight. this is resulting in so much carryover of spoilage to lines down waiting on ingredients..the terms in the contract waiving our rights needs to stop.. They sit there and book freight and cancel when they find a cheaper truck so the $150 tonu doesn’t cover expenses incurred..Weeding out the legitimate brokers from dispatch serviced legal loads continues to be an issue. really hot someone can explore contractual lack of transparency that is totally destroying our financial backbone by so many overseas corporation.without oversight capability, there is no culpability and accountibiity”

Sunny Grewal:

“If everything in US has transparency then why only trucking left behind. We get cheated everyday by brokers. Every service you has a fees , you pay the fees or commission and yku get your stuff done. Brokers charge rate to customer to move their load. But they don’t give us that money, they suppose to charge us 5-10% or whatever the rate we agree and we should get out money straight. But instead they hide everything and putting all that money in their pockets. 

Existing regulations (49 CFR 371.3) require brokers to keep records of transactions with motor carriers. Under Part 371.3, each party to a brokered transaction also has the right to review the record of the transaction. This allows our members to know precisely how much a shipper paid the broker and how much the broker then paid the carrier.”

Ernest Brown:

“The petition Owner Operators Independent Drivers Association is proposing is spot on . The law has been on the books and the brokers have figured out a way to keep the truck operators from seeing how fairly they are being treated .. It should be required the information is available and not be stipulated when one signs for a load to take that right away . The example I have actually happened to me . The shipper was paying $.85 per bushel on a load of salvage corn . I called a broker who had listed the same load , but was offering $.50 per bushel . The broker was going to take 40% took off the top . If I had not seen the shippers rate I would have not known how much the broker was taking . In my world if the broker is taking more than 10% of the gross it is too much in most circumstances . Also 100% of the fuel surcharge should go to the truck . Thanks for letting me comment .

Manpreet Singh:

“I am an owner operator operating in the California. I wanted to comment regarding broker transperancy as of right now brokers taking more than they supposed too and paying less to truckers. There should be a way that the brokers should mention the price of load from shipper and percentage they are taking from the load. There should be some sort of form or template authorised by FMCSA which can be filled so the brokers or truckers cant edit the price.”

Carl Mueller:

“They charge through the roof for freight and want us to haul it off for cheap and “break even”. As an owner operator, how when you have to pay for trucks, insurance, permits, fuel, repairs, and even hotels & and all sorts of other crap/equipment. You can’t make it hauling with these rates they give us, and they take a big ass cut out of the rate too. They should be a fixed low rate at most or no brokers at all. They aren’t the ones risking their lives on the road everyday to provide for their families miles from home. they sit behind a computer screen and a phone. As a driver I think truckers deserve more compensation for what they and cut out the middle man. That’s all I got to say.”

John Iness:

“As an owner operator I like the idea of the brokers revealing to us what they are being paid for the load. But I don’t feel that we should know 48 hours after we complete the load, we should know what they are being paid from the moment we talk to them and begin the process of negotiating for the load. I also feel that the broker should be required to only claim a certain percentage of what is being paid to the broker and the rest of it goes to the owner operator. I think that the broker should only be allowed to make no more than 15% on the loads and the other 85% goes to the owner operator. And we should be able to have access to the electronic copy of the agreement between the broker and customer and see what they are being paid. And if the broker is keeping more than the allocated percentage they should be fined. All to many times we are being offered loads that only pay us $1600 when the broker is being paid $3500 for the load. I’m sorry but we are here to make a living too. And we are a business and a business is operating to make money. We haul 2-6 loads a week and have access to far less than brokers have access to. They deal with thousands of loads a month and if they are making more on a rate than the driver then that equates to millions each month while we struggle to feed our families. I feel that brokers should be capped by law and not be able to make no more than $500/ load or 15% whichever is less and the rest goes to the owner operator. Brokerage companies deal with so many loads a month even at the 15% or $500/load the would still be making millions each year. And the driver would benefit from it as well and we would make money like a business should and we’d be able to expand and grow and be able to afford to keep our equipment safe and in top notch shape while still being able to feed our families and pursue the American dream. Plus making good money will keep the roads safer as drivers won’t have to work themselves to death trying to provide for their families.”

Sedrick Wells:

“The way I see it now is carriers are seeking transparency after the fact which in my opinion is worthless. As a carrier I know that brokers are taking the lion’s share of profits on most loads. I’ve seen this first hand when I see a load posted for 100 then another broker has it for 500. It’s really unfair to the carrier cause we have way more overhead and responsibilities than a broker. I honestly think that broker need to be regulated to a fixed percentage of what they can take from a load and drivers and carriers should get the better share of the rate.”

Ilnur Abdulov:

“An open letter to the FMCSA Administrator and to whom it may concern.

Double brokerage problem? This can be solved very easily.
The recent Mayday 2020 Owner strike revealed the following:
1. Double brokerage is widespread, although prohibited by law. This law does not work.
2. Traffic safety deteriorates.
The broker holds the load until the last minutes in the hope of a large margin,
and then the driver rushes to the pickup.
3. Brokers alter the rules of the game for themselves. Wave 371.3 or the broker’s mocking offer to the carrier in the style: “If you want to see the transaction, come to the broker’s office during business hours.” Complete confusion with detention (hours, pay),
Layover, not using truck, etc.
4. During the pandemic, brokers’ margins surged to 70% and freight rates dropped to 67 cents per mile, leading to the Mayday 2020 protest. DOJ opened an investigation into brokers

Now, in the information age, these problems can be solved quite easily.

Here’s one solution:Under FMCSA, a “Monitoring Center” site is created, where Carrier registers through its MC and enters transportation transactions, transaction coordinates – bill of lading number, broker name, pickup place (city, state).
Carrier registration and transactions should be made mandatory for Carrier, so that the Broker cannot make the wave of this rule, as it was with 371.3. (Make it necessary to make a quarterly statement from the site monitoring center at the annual registration of the truck).
Only spot market transactions are entered. Transactions of direct contracts (Customer-Carrier), dedicated contract cargo are not entered.
BOL (bill of lading) number, broker name, pickup place (city, state), transportation price, detention (hours, price), lumper (price) are entered into the transaction.
The following are not entered into the transaction: Customer name, Carrier name, pick up and delivery address, date.
Carrier creates a transaction at any time within 45 days with the option of making additions (detention, etc.)
Any Customer by bill of lading number, broker name and pickup place (city, state) will easily find the required transaction.
The site is paid. A subscription fee or a few cents per transaction.
Because only BOL number, name of the broker, pickup place (city, state), detention, lumper are indicated in the transaction, then the trade secret of the broker and the customer is fully preserved.
As a result:
1. Double brokerage automatically disappears.
2. Traffic safety is improved.
The broker does not sit on one load in anticipation of a larger margin, but tries to sell loads as much and as quickly as possible.
3. The project is profitable.
4. Full transparency for the customer regarding the transportation price, broker’s margin, detention (hours, price), lumper (price),
which has a positive effect on the market.

This letter was published on social networks for discussion.

Sincerely, US citizen, Ilnur Abdulov.”

Kirpa Bains:

“The brokers should show transparency by showing how much they get payed by the shippers. Also, the brokers should pay detention after two hours waiting at the shippers or receivers. They should also be penalized for paying late.”

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