U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx visited several critical freight corridors during an eight-state bus tour last week, saying the future sustainability of America’s roadways depends on Congress addressing the infrastructure funding crisis.
The tour, which began April 14 in Ohio and ended April 18 in Texas, highlighted short- and long-term funding needs, as well as generated pressure on federal lawmakers from local officials and commuters.
“I’m traveling across the country all week to highlight projects like this that show the difference we can make if we invest in America and commit to the future — because just fixing what we have today isn’t going to help us meet the transportation needs of the future,” Foxx said in Ohio.
With a federal funding plan in place, “We’ll actually put more money into infrastructure so that we can repair more bridges and build new capacity and help fast-growing areas like Nashville have the assets they need,” Foxx said.
Dave Manning, president of Tennessee Express Inc. and a vice chairman of American Trucking Associations, was among those appearing with Foxx in Nashville.
“This funding crisis can be averted if both Congress and the administration will raise the federal fuel tax and index it going forward,” Manning said.
Manning told Transport Topics afterward that Foxx made a compelling case for infrastructure investment.
“He does a good job of personalizing the pay-it-forward thing — that our parents and grandparents have made sacrifices for us that we enjoy today and we’re not doing the same thing for the next generation,” Manning said.
The U.S. DOT said that if federal dollars were available, rehabilitation work could start on the 1960s-era bridge as well as on five other bridges that connect Nashville’s Interstate 40 Inner Loop.
Tennessee Transportation Commissioner John Schroer, standing by Foxx, said: “If we don’t get funding, the only thing that we we’ll be able to do at the state level is maintain our existing infrastructure.”
Earlier in the week, Foxx visited a $28.8 million project in Columbus, Ohio, the Pickaway County Connector that will connect U.S. 23 and the Rickenbacker Intermodal Facility.
Then, in nearby Dayton, Foxx viewed the work upgrading Interstate 75, a heavily traveled freight route that intersects with Interstate 70.
Kevin Burch, president of Jet Express in Dayton and an ATA vice chairman, was at the event and reported that the secretary emphasized that infrastructure investment is related to highway safety and economic growth.
“He even mentioned truckers in the discussion,” Burch told TT, “saying that more trucks would be needed because the economy is picking up and we need better roads and [need to address] the congestion issues, the safety issues.”
ATA, along with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other groups, has said Congress should raise federal fuel taxes and index them to inflation.
But Foxx touted President Obama’s four-year, $302 billion plan to raise money for transportation through tax code changes that include repatriating money held overseas by American corporations to avoid paying taxes.
The country faces two transportation funding crises, the immediate one in the Highway Trust Fund, which is expected to be in the red in August when payment obligations will exceed revenue from the 18.4-cent gasoline tax and the 24.4-cent diesel tax.
The second crisis is MAP-21, the existing transportation funding law, which expires Sept. 30 with it remaining unclear if Congress can agree on a new measure.
In Louisville, Ky., Foxx warned that gridlock in Congress threatens critical transportation projects dependent on the continued flow of federal dollars.
“Part of what we want to do is highlight the fact that highways, transit, all of it is a partnership between states, local government and the federal government,” Foxx said in Louisville.
Kentucky and Ohio, with anticipated federal funds, are rebuilding two aged bridges over the Ohio River that carry traffic in and out of Louisville.
While in Louisville, Foxx also visited UPS Worldport to tour the facility and meet with Scott Davis, UPS chairman and CEO, and other business leaders.
Later, on his blog, Foxx said of the meeting: “What they made clear to me is the scope of the challenge we’re facing when it comes to transportation in America.
“By 2050, we’re going to have to haul an additional 14 billion tons of freight around this country,” Foxx wrote.
During the trip, Foxx also made stops in Atlanta, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Dallas.
Staff Reporter Eugene Mulero contributed to this story.
A California state agency has ruled that seven drivers for Pacer International Inc. who challenged their status as independent contractors can collect $2.21 million.
The Department of Labor Standards Enforcement ruled the drivers were company employees, rather than independent contractors. Pacer, which recently became part of XPO Logistics, has filed a notice of appeal.
The case is the latest development in an ongoing battle over the status of truck drivers, who are independent contractors from the carriers’ standpoint.
Don Minchey, the hearing officer in the case, wrote “the plaintiffs are convincing in their arguments.”
Drivers’ independent contractor status is being challenged by union organizers, in Southern California and other locations, who are seeking employee status so that organizing campaigns can advance.
“We are aware of the rulings by the administrative hearing officer in the seven claims,” an XPO spokesman told Transport Topics. “These cases are ongoing and we have appealed the rulings to California Superior Court. We intend to vigorously oppose these claims, which we believe are without merit.”
March 25, 2014: YRCW’s annual meeting on April 29 is open to anyone who owns any common stock. And Teamsters own stock. Want to question CEO James Welch, in front of the media?
Do you want to ask why he got a big bonus after the concession vote passed? Why they paid Harry Wilson $12.5 million over a year’s time?
Any votes are meaningless, because management holds the proxies of the big institutional investors. But, the media will be there, and would be interested in what YRCW Teamster employees are asking, and how Welch answers.
April 29, 10 a.m. YRCW Headquarters, in Overland Park.
Teamsters score a win against “sharecropping on wheels.” But will the trucking industry really change?
Along with auto technicians, fast food workers, and baggage handlers, another profession has been hit by the separation of labor from employer: Port truckers, who haul containers from cargo ships on short trips around the terminal. Years of deregulation have led to more of them being classified as "independent contractors," with lower pay and fewer rights, rather than unionized employees.
Yesterday, however, they took a step in the other direction, with a National Labor Relations Board determination that could start to reverse the trend.
Click here to read more at The Washington Post.
A string of actions by state officials and the National Labor Relations Board has strengthened the hand of truck drivers who say they need union representation to improve pay and working conditions for the thousands who transport cargo out of the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.
In a settlement this week, one major trucking company agreed to post notices acknowledging the workers’ right to organize — not previously a given because drivers were treated as contract workers, who are not subject to unionization. The agreement comes after repeated victories at the state Labor Commissioner’s office, where 30 drivers have won decisions against 11 port trucking firms, awarding them $3.6 million in wages and penalties.
Click here to read more at the Los Angeles Times.
On Tuesday, the less-than-truckload carrier (Nasdaq: YRCW) sent a notice to stockholders inviting them to the annual stockholder meeting April 29 at the company’s Overland Park headquarters.
The notice advised stockholders that they will be asked to vote on the makeup of YRC’s board, the compensation package for its executives, its incentive and equity award plan, and the retention of accounting firm KPMG LLP as the company’s independent public accounting firm.
The filing details how much YRC's top executives earned in 2013. Here’s the total amount of salary, stock awards, incentives and bonuses awarded to them in 2013 and 2012, according to the filing:
- CEO James Welch earned $2,170,630, an increase from $1,968,324 in 2012.
- CFO Jamie Pierson earned $1,999,223, an increase from $1,200,172 in 2012.
- Michelle Friel, executive vice president, general counsel and secretary at YRC Worldwide, earned $966,161, a decrease from $1,166,508 in 2012.
- Former YRC Freight President Jeff Rogers, who was fired in September, earned $726,236, a decrease from $1,558,433 in 2012.
In addition, some YRC executives recently have generated additional income by selling their stock in the company. Dozens of these trades have been made since YRC successfully refinanced $1.4 billion in debt that was to come due this year and next.
According to trading data on sales and disposition of YRC stock since Feb. 26, collected from SEC filings by Yahoo Finance, Welch has sold $2,701,454 worth of shares, Pierson has sold $2,087,448, and Friel has sold $1,509,409.
MAEVA Group earns $12.5M
The filing also provided further details to compensation New York-based MAEVA Group LLC received in 2013 and 2014.
In accordance with an advisory agreement MAEVA and YRC signed in February 2013, MAEVA was paid a $5.5 million completion fee and $3 million in monthly retainer fees. YRC paid MAEVA $500,000 in monthly retainer fees for two months of service in 2014 and paid an additional $3.5 million incremental fee to MAEVA in recognition of its contribution to the company’s debt refinancing in early 2014, the filing said.
In total, MAEVA was paid $12.5 million between February 2013 and March 2014, the filing said. Harry Wilson, who served on YRC’s board of Directors from July 2011 until March 2014, is chairman and CEO of MAEVA.
Late last month, YRC Worldwide reported adjusted 2013 EPS of ($5.09), versus the Street's ($11.17) estimate and our ($6.70) estimate, and in this note, we are updating our earnings model for the refinancing and recent results.
Click here or on the image to the right to read more.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration on Thursday unveiled its proposal to require interstate commercial truck and bus companies to use Electronic Logging Devices in their vehicles to improve compliance with the safety rules that govern the number of hours a driver can work.
FMCSA contends the proposal would significantly reduce the paperwork burden associated with hours-of-service recordkeeping -- the largest in the federal government following tax-related filings -- and improve the quality of logbook data.
The agency claims the proposed rule will reduce hours-of-service violations by making it harder for drivers to misrepresent their time on logbooks and avoid detection by the agency and law enforcement personnel. FMCSA says analysis shows the proposed regulation would help reduce crashes by fatigued drivers and prevent approximately 20 fatalities and 434 injuries each year for an annual safety benefit of $394.8 million.
The proposed rule also includes provisions to:
- Respect driver privacy by ensuring that ELD records continue to reside with the motor carriers and drivers. Electronic logs will continue to only be made available to FMCSA personnel or law enforcement during roadside inspections, compliance reviews and post-crash investigations.
- Protect drivers from harassment through an explicit prohibition on harassment by a motor carrier owner towards a driver using information from an ELD. It will also establish a procedure for filing a harassment complaint and creates a maximum civil penalty of up to $11,000 for a motor carrier that engages in harassment of a driver that leads to an hours-of-service violation or the driver operating a vehicle when they are so fatigued or ill it compromises safety. The proposal will also ensure that drivers continue to have access to their own records and require ELDs to include a mute function to protect against disruptions during sleeper berth periods.
- Increase efficiency for law enforcement personnel and inspectors who review driver logbooks by making it more difficult for a driver to cheat when submitting their records of duty status and ensuring the electronic logs can be displayed and reviewed electronically, or printed, with potential violations flagged.
In developing the updated proposal, FMCSA relied on input from its Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee, feedback from two public listening sessions and comments filed during an extended period following the 2011 proposed rule. The proposal also incorporates the mandates included in the most recent transportation bill, the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act, and other statutes.
Read more in-depth coverage from Washington Editor Oliver Patton in this updated story.
March 10, 2014: Last week the top execs of YRCW each got an $800,000 bonus, as a reward for the concessions approved by Teamster employees and the subsequent debt refinancing. A salaried (nonunion) employee of YRCW sent us an open letter to CEO James Welch regarding the top-heavy priorities of YRCW management, which is reprinted below. For obvious reasons, the letter is not signed.
Congratulations to you and Mr. Harry Wilson and Mr. Jamie Pierson on completing the refinancing deal. I'm glad it paid off for you.
You've said on several occasions that you deserve bonuses and stock because you make 25% less than Mr. Zollars did. Wouldn't that make some sense since the company is only 50% as big as it used to be? When he left, Mr. Zollars made $900,000 and you make $700,000 - you've clearly closed that gap and then some with all the stock grants and cash bonuses you've received. How can you be paid millions in incentives when we still lost over $30 million dollars last year? Does the Board pay out millions for sleight of hand financial juggling instead of real operating results?
It escaped a lot of people but I just read in the recent SEC 8k filing that you and Mr. Pierson and Ms. Friehl were this month given a huge bonus by the board to recognize your efforts with the restructuring? You and Mr. Pierson got $800,000 each in new stock 33,333 shares – and Ms. Friehl got a cool quarter million. I am confused though – isn’t it part of your job to do what is necessary for the employees and shareholders? Wouldn’t that include working to get a re-financing completed? I get paid my salary to do my job. It must be nice to be you.
Speaking of the Board – they not only awarded their partner Harry Wilson $3m in monthly fees, plus the $5.5 million he negotiated for himself, but I now hear that the Directors gave their friend another $3.5m on top of what he had negotiated – was that just a handsome parting gift? IF that is true, how can it be that you didn’t have to disclose that? Is this some secret payoff? In total Harry has now gotten $12m for 12 months work - $3m in monthly fees, $5.5m completion bonus and a $3.5m secret bonus. How nice to be Harry.
Did the Board even consider using that huge payout to re-instate the 401k match for non union employees? We haven’t had a retirement contribution in almost six years but that is apparently of no concern to the Board. You all must think Harry is more deserving than those who have stayed with this ship and kept it afloat for years even before you cam back to make your millions.
You lecture us and say we should leave if we don’t like it here. I would like it here a lot more if I could just have a little 401k match – you must like it a lot since you are making millions on the backs of your employees – union and non union alike.
- A longtime YRCW employee.