End in sight as protesters prepare for White House meeting

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Trucks line Constitution Avenue in Washington D.C. as trucker protests continue.

WASHINGTON — As protesting truckers wind down Day 19 of their Washington D.C. protest on May 19, they are on the cusp of realizing their biggest protest goal — a meeting at the White House. Selected individuals have been invited to a West Wing meeting on Wednesday, May 20. It has not been confirmed that President Trump will attend; however, the meeting should satisfy trucker demands to meet.

Exactly who will represent the truckers is as yet unannounced.

United States Transportation Alliance (USTA) CEO Michael Landis will almost certainly be among the participants, but no official announcement has been made. Reports that a representative of the Eastern European trucking group will attend, along with an attorney, are unconfirmed.

Another area of speculation is the list of demands the group will bring to the meeting.

Broker transparency is a term commonly used by protesters, but many want the government to regulate the percentage of load revenue that brokers can keep. While transparency is already written into the regulations in 49 CFR 371.3, brokers often evade the disclosure requirements by requiring carriers to waive their rights to the information or making access to the information so difficult as to strongly discourage carrier review. Revising the transparency requirements would certainly be easier than forcing a revenue percentage cap on brokers, which some would see as interference with the free market.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) today filed a petition with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) asking for a rulemaking that would require brokers to automatically provide a copy of the transaction record within 48 hours of the completion of a load. The proposed rule would prohibit brokers from including any provision in contracts that would waive the carrier’s right to access this information.

Yesterday Washington protesters got a huge boost in morale when President Trump made them a part of the agenda at a May 18 roundtable discussion with restaurant industry leaders at the White House.

As Eugene Scalia, secretary of labor, delivered comments on reopening the U.S. economy, Trump interrupted with, “And Gene, you have to help the truckers, also.”

Scalia assured the president that his department has been talking about the topic, and Trump continued, “And I’ll tell you, they’re, they work hard, and they have brokers that take a lot of their business away. They (brokers) don’t work so hard. They sit in an office someplace, it’s not good. So, I’d like to help the truckers. All right?”

There was immediate criticism of the labor secretary for laughing and smiling before responding to the president. Whether the laughter expressed a lack of concern for truckers, as some claimed on social media sites, or a lighthearted acknowledgement of the horn-blowing protesters that have disrupted outdoor events at the White House wasn’t clear.

Protest organizers and spokespersons talked nearly continuously throughout the day Tuesday, polling protest participants and solidifying the requests they will make at the meeting.

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