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18-Wheeler Drivers Demand Transparency

May 1, 2020, Semi-trucks began parking along Constitution Avenue in the nation’s Capital, Washington, D.C. to protest unjust pay and treatment from freight companies (brokers). Brokers control the bid rates to companies sending goods (shippers), and they contract with freight drivers (carriers) which normally are independent. Leaving the carriers in the dark when it comes to the amount they will receive and when. Carriers do not control how much each broker bids on to the shippers per load.

Brokers are regulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). The law which governs freight brokers is 49 CFR §371. This law does not fully cover the issues the carriers are facing.

“A shipper pays for the movement of a load and a broker keeps more than 50 percent of the profit paid for the movement of the load for themselves. We want brokers to be more regulated and transparent. We want to see before we drive the load, how much the shipper has paid for the load to the broker, and if the broker is trying to steal from us,” David, a fright driver and advocate said during a in-person interview.

The carriers assumes all the liabilities, damages and costs associated with their truck. Due to COVID-19, brokers have been lowering the bids for deliveries to such a low rate that the carriers are needing to pay from their pockets for the delivery of our nations’ goods. When carriers get paid, the payment is insufficient to run and maintain the trucks, let alone make a living, one carrier said during an in-person interview outside the Capital.

Currently, there is a law which allows for carriers to get the pricing information from the broker after the delivery of the shipment. The carriers want to know the breakdown before they begin the long journey of transporting the goods.

“We have to fix our trucks, we have to pay for our trucks, pay for a very expensive insurance, deal with the DOT (Department of Transportation), and we get a little slice of the cake (paid very little),” David said.

Since the start of the COVID-19 Pandemic, the more drivers and delivery trucks became an essential factor in economic and social stability as these drivers are the ones who deliver all the food, resources and goods to stores nationwide. If these drivers are not fairly compensated for the high demand and long hours their career demands, then they will find another way to make a living. Less trucks delivering goods means higher prices on everyday necessities and less supply for stores. If the issues they advocate for are not addressed in a reasonable manner, the U.S. economy will take an even more obvious hit then what many people have already witnessed as a result from this pandemic.