Mayday Truckers Protest (DC, USA)

The action of truck drivers in DC (mayday protest as it is also known), which took place in the spring of 2020, thundered all over the country. This time, the reason was not electronic logs for truckers protest. The initiator of the protest was "CJ" Sergey Karman, who has first-hand experience of the difficulties of a commercial driver's profession. The protesting drivers' main goal was to send a mayday signal from the trucking industry to the US authorities. How did the protest start, and what results were achieved? 

How Truckers Protest (Washington, DC) Started

The first of May 2020 was remembered not only by drivers but also by many residents of Washington. If we talk about the industry's history as a whole, the truckers protest in Washington, DC, today remains the most visible phenomenon and continues to inspire many commercial drivers.

Indeed, on this day, mayday signals were heard on the streets near the Capitol in the morning. They sounded from the horns of about 70 powerful trucks parked near the presidential residence. This "song" could not be ignored. It attracted the attention of the public not only in Washington but also in the entire United States. The drivers have placed their vehicles here to be seen as much as possible from the windows of the White House. They were here for a common cause to make trucking great again. If you've heard about this event before and wondered what is mayday protest, it is time to figure out the details. On May 1, the mayday signal sounded like a sign of unity for truckers' rights across the country. The initiator of the protest was "CJ" Sergey Karman, who previously also worked in cargo transportation. He is now the founder and CEO of Ezlogz.

Events in DC: Truckers Protest Against Brokers

The event was supposed to last until May 4. The organizers wanted to draw public attention to the problems present, which caused truckers protest. HOS issues also sounded during the action to some extent.

The protesters of the protest, namely "CJ" Sergey Karman, wanted to draw attention to brokers' rulemaking and transparency issues. Drivers complained that brokers were paying them little for their services. In doing so, the dealers withheld significant amounts of money that they received from the shippers. Therefore, truck drivers demanded an increase in the level of transparency. Brokers must provide drivers with all information about the cargo they are transporting. This is provided by law. However, dealers have their own opinion. It often happened that owners-operators who demanded too much were "blacklisted" and lost potential profits due to lack of work. 

What were the other issues causing truckers protest? ELD implementation also caused many difficulties for drivers in due time. However, this time, truckers also raised the issue of quarantine measures. Many of them during their work in a pandemic were not provided with the necessary protective equipment: disposable masks, respirators, gloves, or antiseptics.

Another problem raised by one of the protesters was the lack of break areas for drivers. Such facilities are essential when drivers wait for their trucks to load. However, they have nowhere to spend these few hours, drink coffee, or relax. They have to sit somewhere on a bench and wait. Previously, this issue has not been raised by any truckers protest. E-logs and ELD used to be the central questions of interest for drivers.

Public Reaction to Truckers Protest, USA

Even though the drivers did not receive the necessary permits for the action on May 1, the Capitol police treated them well.

Thanks to their unity, the owners-operators achieved their goal on May 3 — namely, they brought attention to their issues to then-incumbent President Donald Trump. On that day, he tweeted that he was always with the truckers and promised that everything would be fine. This short post on the popular social networking site Twitter confirmed that the government is aware of a truckers protest that began a few days ago.

Later on May 20, "CJ" Sergey Karman and Mike Landis met with the White House representatives. During a meeting with Mark Meadows, White House Chief of Staff, and Jim Mullen, the Acting Administrator of the FMCSA, the protest leaders managed to draw the authorities' attention to the plight of the owners-operators. After the meeting, "CJ" Sergey Karman noted that they explained why the issue of transparency related to brokers' work is so important, what the protesters want and how they see the solution to this issue.

In addition, the drivers managed to attract the attention of OOIDA, and this was already 160,000 people who started to speak about this truckers protest. The association recognized the historically low rates for the transportation of goods. The letter from the organization's executive vice president also provided a link to report broker abuse.

The public could not stand aside either because Americans always react to every truckers protest (ELD mandate, electronic logbook, etc). Most people expressed their opinions on social networks. Someone was happy about this turn of events because the protest attracted the attention of Trump himself. Others noted that getting the president's attention is a small step forward, and there would be many more efforts to be spent in the future. Third they stated the danger of such protests.

Mayday Protest Results

Thanks to the initiative of "CJ" Sergey Karman, the Make Trucking Great Again Association was founded during the May 2020 events. He is the leader of the movement. The main goal of MTGAA is to demand transparency and avoid double or joint brokerage.

After the Mayday protest and the meeting of the organizers with representatives of the White House, the Ministry of Justice launched two investigations. As such, the Antitrust Division is working on federal disclosure requirements in accordance with 49 CFR § 371.3 (c) freight brokers. And Craig Carpenito, the US Attorney in New Jersey, has launched an investigation into overpricing by freight brokers.

Thus, since May, MTGAA, headed by "CJ" Sergey Karman, has been fighting for the transportation sector's rights. In addition to the transparency of brokers' work, the association wants to achieve an investigation of collusion between large brokers and a ban on double mediation.

Truckers Protest: 2020 Consequences

It was argued that owners-operators and drivers working for small companies were to blame for their problems. Namely, the reason was that since there were low rates for cargo transportation, it meant that someone agreed to work for that kind of money. That is, all commercial drivers need to unite and stop working at such rates. Then brokers will be forced to raise fees.

Thus, we will not need any truckers protest. Logging devices are something that was mandatory at the legislative level and significantly influenced road safety. In that case, the CMV drivers could not control the ELD implementation in any way. And in the case of brokers, they can.

Truckers protest in Washington, DC also raised the question of what the organizers are going to do with the attention they receive. Many people asked whether truck drivers had a plan and whether the problem with brokers needed to be solved at the legislative level. It is possible to adopt stricter rules to control the work of dealers. For example, set a specific percentage that brokers can withhold from transactions, etc.

What is the Danger of Truckers Protest in DC

DuWayne Marshall, a trucking veteran, also came to the truckers protest. Electronic logs were not yet recorded using mandatory ELDs when he retired, so we can say that he knows everything about broker rates for a long time in this industry. Among other things, he noted that asking the authorities to get involved in the work of brokers is dangerous. Marshall also once owned a brokerage firm. He said that if the authorities set a specific rate for the dealer, the broker will always take it even if the cargo itself is garbage.

The retired driver said that there is another way to fix the problems caused by the Mayday truckers protest. Elogs with obligatory usage of ELD limited cargo capacity at one time. Then the carriers named their prices to the shippers and got what they wanted. Now the situation is different: there are more trucks than cargo. Therefore, you need to be careful because brokers can win. Thus, it is better to solve the problem not with the authorities' help but together with each other. All truckers should stop agreeing to work at low rates, leaving brokers with no choice.

By Denis Kirston
17 / 02 / 2021
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Stop cheap freight by enforcing transparency (371.3)