Well, it seems as if there is a new trend forcing its way to the surface in the fight for freight broker transparency. Just straight up lie.
In a recent article titled OOIDA clarifies broker transparency misinformation in message to Congress, Land Line author Tyson Fisher writes about the Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association’s quest to correct the inaccuracies of the Transportation Intermediaries Associations previous claims regarding the Association’s efforts to educate it’s member clients on how to handle freight broker transparency claims under CFR 371.3.
To start off first, I would like to make something clear: I personally am not the biggest fan of either of these groups. The OOIDA, to me, does not have a great track record in truly helping small owner-operators, again….my personal opinion. The TIA, well, regardless of their intentions, it seems as if every time they go out on the defense of members on various topics, they do little but stir the pot. Whether it is a video posted on YouTube chalk full of inaccuracies, or poorly written letters that literally beg to be taken out of context, it seems as if the TIA folks are sealing their own fate.
One such letter was recently sent out to members, and through connections, sent to Freight Broker Live. While the letter was largely meant to provide their members information, it seems as if the final proof was not checked before hitting that send button. The letter went out, and….of course, the opposition jumped at the chance to use that poorly written letter as proof that the TIA was only looking out for its members.
I get it. The OOIDA, and their media arm, Landline, have a responsibility to advocate for their members, but the most recent article, OOIDA clarifies broker transparency misinformation in message to Congress really makes me wonder where they draw the line. To me, it was ironic the author choose to use the term “misinformation” in the article’s title, as it seemed the entire article was written to provide misinformation. To increase the divide between carrier and broker. I am going to cover a few points in the article that I personally took offense to (and I will describe why at the end of this article).
I know lie is a strong word, but I am not sure how to put it any other way. In my personal opinion, the author of this article straight up lied. The author wrote “TIA compared owner-operators to communists in its letter to members in an attempt to undermine OOIDA’s position.” The author then tries to back up this argument by including only a portion of the quote written by TIA’s President Robert Voltmann sent to members back in 2005. Below is the entirety of the quote:
“Did we turn the clock back to 1978 and regulated rates? No, most of you and most OOIDA members were not in business during those “happy days” of regulation. Maybe we have been transported to some communist country where rates and profits are controlled. No, we relegated communism to backwater countries like Cuba. So maybe the owner-operators have their own sales force to find shipper freight to fill their trucks and, therefore, do not really need brokers, but use you because they like you. No, they need brokers to be their sales force to keep their trucks full and stay in business, because they cannot do it without you. So the reason that they want to know this information is either that they’re seeking some regulation over rates and margins or they’ve got some other mischievous purpose in mind. Of course, all sarcasm aside, OOIDA could be attempting to educate their members about how to judge rates and price their service. On loads quoted to pay a percentage of the gross, OOIDA is correct in telling its members to obtain an accounting. On a load for which a flat fee has been freely negotiated and agreed to, I question the relevance of knowing the spread.“
So now seeing the entirety of the quote, you may wonder how the author was able to surmise how the “TIA compared owner operators to communists.” Maybe he did not have access to this entire quote, but that is extremely unlikely as I personally was the one who sent this letter to the magazine, so I know they have access to it in entirety. Instead it seems they simply made it up.
Another lie, again, sorry for the strong wording, but not sure how else you can put it, the author writes “OOIDA continues by referring to the letter TIA sent its members. In the letter, TIA suggests ways for brokers to continue to avoid transparency.” Again, anyone with access to the letter knows this is again a lie. This is more of a direct lie versus the whole “communist” claim above as Voltmann writes “All this said, you must comply with the request,” referencing any carrier’s request of information. TIA also reminds its members that “Your accounting software should capture this information. You must respond to the information request.”
While the author seems to be misinformed, TIA does clarify that nothing in regulations says the record of the transaction needs to be sent, only that the broker is required to make it available to the carrier, meaning the carrier would have to come to the broker’s office to see the transaction. While the author may contend this is a way for the broker to “avoid transparency” wouldn’t the TIA’s mentioning, twice that its members “MUST COMPLY” with any carrier’s request lead you to think otherwise? Probably, but this was conveniently left out of Landline’s article.
And lastly, the author writes “TIA also claims that its members can inform truckers of market conditions by pointing to rates on load board and digital apps. However, OOIDA points out that brokers control the information on rates available on those platforms.” Well, not sure if this is a lie, or just evidence of a lack of actual experience in the industry. Saying freight brokers control this information is just plain stupid. Sure, the information is gathered after the load is accepted by a carrier, and the information is reported by both shippers and brokers, however if carriers do not accept these “load board and digital apps” rates, and require more money in order to book a load, the rate changes, showing that who is actually in control of these transactions?
So now let’s get to the brass tacks. The trucking industry is in dire-straights. We all know this. What I really can’t seem to understand is why the OOIDA and TIA can’t work together to actually attempt to help the industry. Instead, it seems they are content to go back and forth like a bunch of school yard bozos. It is the same old us vs. them mentality which proves that this industry is fractured. The fact is that if something is not done soon to help the industry, all these carriers and even brokers who rely on these associations to advocate for their best interests will be out of business. Instead of focusing on immediate solutions to these immediate issues, these groups are fighting battles that have been going on for years.
Final point to BOTH the OOIDA and TIA…..again. While you both engage in the battle of freight rate stupidity, your members are losing everything! Do something! Please.