USA eases several rules for truck drivers

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, starting Dec. 18th, U.S. truck drivers in most cases will no longer have to file a report if an inspection of their equipment shows no maintenance issues and safety defects.  The rule change will mean drivers won’t have to file a report when no equipment problems or safety issues are found during inspections 95 percent of the time.

By dropping the driver vehicle inspection reporting (DVIR) requirement when no safety defects or mechanical deficiencies are found, the trucking industry will save an estimated $1.7 billion annually, according to the U.S. DOT

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) estimates that drivers spend nearly 46.7 million hours each year completing DVIRs. Driver vehicle inspection reporting has created the 19th-largest federal paperwork burden, but the rule change will drop the requirement to 79thplace, FMCSA Acting Administrator Scott Darling said in a statement.

In addition, the portion of the 34 hour restart rule that requires truckers to take two rest periods between 1am and 5am is being repealed. This will allow truckers to travel unhindered when the roads are the least busy, and will also allow them to reset their weekly hours before 7 full days have passed.

This change will only remain in effect until September 30, 2015, unless Congress acts to make it permanent.
Stay informed with RCL Agencies updates about the global shipping and trade regulations.

Strike Ended at LA and Long Beach

The Los Angeles Times reports that   a nine-day trucker strike at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach has come to an end after truck drivers from two companies agreed to return to work.

Several hundred truckers , who work for manufacturer and distributor Pacer International and Harbor Rail Transport, have vowed to continue discussions with their colleagues, and will not retaliate against drivers who choose to walk away from their jobs.

Strikes at the ports began on November 13, 2014, after drivers from several firms said they were improperly classified as independent contractors.  As a result, drivers claimed they were left with fewer workplace protections and lower pay in comparison to workers who remained working for a company.

Following negotiations with drivers from other firms, drivers from the other five firms stopped striking before November 21, 2014.

Port officials have said cargo continues to move and that cargo has not been disrupted since the strikes began. Container terminals have remained open to trade.

The ILWU and multinational shipping lines represented by the Pacific Maritime Association are negotiating a new contract for about 20,000 workers.

Keep on top of shipping news with updates from RCL!

Intermodal Door Delivery Charge effective December 1st, 2014

An Intermodal Door Delivery Charge for all import door delivery  shipments to the United States of America has been announced by a major global ocean carrier.  The carrier advised that effective December 1st 2014 all door delivery shipments to the USA shall be subject to an Intermodal Door Delivery Surcharge of USD 90 per 20’ Dry/Reefer container  and USD 100 per 40’/40’HQ/45’ Dry/Reefer container.

The implemented surcharge is due to unexpected increases in the cost of inland transport and door delivery in recent months, including extensive port congestion, truck driver shortages, sharply increased rail volumes with increasing limitations on rail shipments, extreme weather as well as increased inland carriage costs. Although this announcement is from a single carrier, due to rising costs other carriers may also implement surcharges.

Please be guided accordingly. If you have any questions please contact RCL Agencies at or at 973-779-5900.


US Truck Drivers Shortage Worsens

According to a recent study by the American Trucking Associations (ATA), the U.S. is experiencing a deficit of approximately 30,000 truck drivers.  Currently, freight demand is higher than in 2013, and if that trend continues, transportation costs may rise steeply as trucking companies increase wages and perks to retain and recruit drivers. The American Trucking Associations For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index shows an rise  in freight demand of 1.6 percent in August from the previous month and 4.5 percent year-over-year.   The driver shortage is seen as a primary reason for  domestic transportation costs rising at a faster pace in 2014.

Among the reasons for the increasing shortage are high personnel turnover  and  comparatively low pay.  Wages paid to drivers  have increased much more slowly than the average U.S. salary in other areas, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  Demographic changes are also  compounding the problem. Fewer young people are interested in getting into the profession partially due to the salary issue.  The average truck driver is 55, and more drivers are retiring. Not enough younger workers are signing up, forcing companies like Werner, Celadon Group and J B Hunt Transport Services to offer signing bonuses to new drivers.  “In my opinion, we are going to see a shift in how trucking companies view their driver population,” said Mike Regan, chief of relationship development at TranzAct Technologies and advocacy chair for shipper group NASSTRAC. “When you have a situation where your inventory gets up and walks out the door every day, that situation needs to change.”  Swift Transportation, the nation’s largest truckload carrier has announced  that they will be raising their pay scale to drivers sometime this quarter in an effort to retain current drivers and attract new drivers to their company.  The increase will be the largest in the company’s history, according to  Richard Stocking, president and chief operating officer of the $4 billion company.

Although the trucking industry reported a 2.3% growth year over year in September, the shortage is not expected to abate anytime soon. The  rise in  freight demand  will keep pressure on within the industry to recruit and train drivers. According to DAT Solutions, which provides data to the transport sector, the driver shortage helped push the rate per mile for freight shipped on long-term contracts up 8 per cent on the year in August, to around US$1.80 a mile. Rates in the spot market, where customers move freight at short notice, rose 14 per cent to US$1.92.  A recent analysis from Business Insider finds that we aren’t producing nearly enough new drivers to fill all the needed seats. The shortfall could grow to around 240,000 drivers by 2020 if it is not addressed, the ATA said.

Stay informed with RCL Agencies updates about industry news.

PMA – ILWU Contract Negotiation Update

According to officials, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) and the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) announced  that they have reached a tentative agreement on terms for health benefits, subject to agreement on the other issues in the negotiations.

The parties have agreed not to discuss the terms of this tentative agreement as negotiations continue.  Operational and jurisdictional topics will be discussed.

Maintenance of health benefits (MOB) is an important part of the contract being negotiated between employers represented by the PMA and workers represented by the ILWU.

The contract being negotiated covers nearly 20,000 longshore workers at 29 West Coast ports. The previous agreement expired at 5 p.m. on July 1, 2014. Talks began on May 12 and are continuing.

RCL Agencies will continue to monitor the situation and report further updates once available.

ILWU and PNW Grain Terminals Reach Tentative Agreement

The Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service announced last week that the International Longshore and Warehouse Union reached a tentative agreement with grain terminals in the Pacific Northwest on Aug. 11. The agreement will potentially end two years of lockouts, picketing and interruptions in U.S. grain exports.

The tentative agreement between the ILWU and the Pacific Northwest Grain Handlers Association, which must be ratified by the general membership, was reached with the assistance of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service.

The agreement involves ILWU locals working at the United Grain terminal in Vancouver, Washington, the Columbia Grain facility in Portland and the Louis-Dreyfus terminals in Portland and Seattle. An IILWU spokeswoman said each local will vote on the agreement according to its own rules, and the results will be announced on Aug. 25.

She added that “reduced picket lines” will remain at the United Grain and Columbia Grain terminals while the membership votes on the contracts.

The grain contract is separate from the coastwide contract negotiations between the ILWU and the Pacific Maritime Association that have been underway since May 12. The grain companies are not members of the PMA.

However, the tentative agreement could have a positive impact on the coastwide contract negotiations. Those talks in San Francisco have been interrupted several times this summer so ILWU negotiators could travel to the Pacific Northwest to participate in the grain talks.

Stay informed with RCL Agencies updates about global shipping and trade regulations.

USA Imposes Conditions of Entry on Nigerian Vessels

According to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), the United States government  imposed “Conditions of Entry (COE)’’ on vessels originating or calling from Nigerian ports.

The US mission in Nigeria said in a statement that it was henceforth required that Nigerian vessels met certain security measures before entering US ports. “Nigerian ports have not fully implemented the provisions of the International Ship and Port Security (ISPS) Code and do not have effective anti-terrorism measures in place.

Accordting to the statement, 22 Nigerian port facilities would be exempted from the COE as  these port facilities  had demonstrated effective anti-terrorism measures and would no longer be subjected to additional security precautions.

The USA clarified that the COE was not meant as trade sanctions or ban on Nigerian ships from entering US ports.

The statement added that COE was also to require Nigerian ships to have additional security measures while non-exempt Nigerian port facilities were to be verified by the US Coast Guard.  The US Coast Guard would continue to consult with the Nigerian government in achieving full ISPS code compliance and removal of the COE.

Stay informed with RCL Agencies updates about the global trade and international shipping issues.

Longshoremen at Port of Baltomore Continue to Work Without a Contract

Unionized longshoremen who work the docks at the port of Baltimore refused to sign new contract proposals from their employers, opting once again to extend a labor standoff.

Container shipping is unaffected as the union at the centre of the row, the International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA) has already agreed terms for moving the box freight.

Handling of the general cargo continues however, after the strike action last October was deemed illegal by a federal arbitrator who recently levied $3.8 million damage award to the port operators. The ILA declined to comment when we asked for their position on whether they considered this legal and whether they were prepared to pay up. What the union apparently did do however, in what is an unusual move, was to strongly support the local union branch, Local 333, with national officials publicly backing the longshoremen’s stand just at a point many felt they might have been prepared to settle for the latest contract terms on offer.

The ILA stand is possibly political, Dennis Daggett, President of the ILA’s Atlantic Coast District, told members that refusing to cooperate with the latest offer puts the union in a stronger negotiating position regarding settlement of the outstanding penalty. When the ballot was taken workers were confronted by a ‘Vote No’ placard bearing the President’s plea. This whole mess arose when the ILA members October stoppage included cessation of work on container traffic as well as the general freight, an illegality as the aforementioned agreed terms expressly forbade cross trade interference.

The employers at the Maryland port are represented by the Steamship Trade Association of Baltimore which also seems reluctant to make any comment regarding the situation. Although work continues,  the uncertainty surrounding the labour situation is bound to have an effect upon corporate stakeholders such as the shipping lines who are doubtless receiving offers elsewhere.

The contract has been the source of heated negotiations for months between the union and the Steamship Trade Association of Baltimore, which represents port employers.

RCL Agency will continue to monitor the situation and report further updates once available.

Winter Weather Affects Southern US Ports

Transportation services at ports from Virginia to Texas has been delayed due to freezing rain and icy roads and bridges.

The Port of Virginia said its truck gates, empty container yards and rail operations were closed until Thursday, but that the schedule might be modified if conditions change.

The port authority said weather is not forecast to have an impact on cargo operations at Virginia Inland Port in Front Royal, or the Port of Richmond.

The North Carolina State Ports Authority said its Wilmington and Morehead City terminals would be closed to port authority employees Wednesday but that tenants would have access.

The South Carolina Ports Authority said Charleston terminals would close from 3 p.m. Wednesday until 1 p.m. Thursday,  but that the schedule might be altered if conditions changed.

The Port of Houston said its Bayport and Barbours Cut container terminals and its Turning Basin breakbulk terminals would be closed all day Wednesday and expect to reopen Thursday.

The Port of New Orleans’ Napoleon Container Terminal that was  closed on Tuesdayreopened at noon Wednesday and will operate as usual beginning at 7 a.m. Thursday (Jan. 30), following the winter weather affecting south Louisiana.

The Alabama Port Authority said its public seaport terminals were closed until further notice because worsening weather expected to bring freezing rain and ice, 20- to 30-knot winds, and 10-foot seas offshore. The port authority said vessel arrivals and departures wouldn’t be affected but that ice accumulations of up to three tenths of an inch would make roads and bridges hazardous.

The severe weather is also affecting truck and rail traffic throughout the region.

Please be guided accordingly and check the port websites for updates

Delays at Port of NY-NJ

As the Journal of Commerce reports, the Port of New York and New Jersey has begun the first days of 2014  with the cargo pickups and deliveries delays due to congestion.

Drivers have been forced to wait in hours-long lines to pick up and deliver cargo at clogged container terminals.

The reasons to the congestion were cause by the mid-week Christmas and New Year’s Day holidays, a blizzard that closed the port last Friday, heavy import-export volume, a tight supply of longshore labor, and cold weather that affected terminals’ hydraulic equipment.

Congestion has been especially severe at Maher Terminals, which handles 40 percent of the port’s container traffic and is dealing with heavy volume. Port authority police are restricting the length of truck lines outside Maher’s gates this week in an effort to keep roads clear.

Maher announced today that it would suspend demurrage penalties and extend free storage time through Friday. The terminal previously granted a one-day extension of free storage time during the peak of congestion earlier this week.

Please be advised that the terminal  is keeping its gates open till 7 p.m. until further notice. The adjacent APM Terminals is keeping gates open till 5:30 p.m. this week.

Gate closing times don’t always mean the end of a driver’s work day. With terminals congested, many drivers have had to wait for service long after inbound gates are closed behind them.