Another operator's HOS exemption request denied | Teamsters' deal with TForce

Trucking news and briefs for Monday, July 17, 2023:

FMCSA denies another trucker’s HOS exemption request

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has denied a truck driver’s request for an exemption from the 10-hour break, the 14-hour driving window, the 11-hour driving limit, the 30-minute break requirement and the 70-hours-in-eight-days limit.

John Olier, a truck driver and U.S. Army veteran, requested the exemption in March. In his request, Olier said he has 30 years as a licensed driver, including 11 years as an “expert driver” in the Army and five years as a CDL holder, adding that he has “never had an accident or incident involving safety.”

He added that his prior military experience, which trained him to work with little or no sleep periods, enables him to recognize the warning signs of fatigue and respond appropriately.

Out of 113 comments filed to the docket for Olier’s request, 83 supported the exemption, while another 13 focused more on eliminating or relaxing the HOS rules than the exemption application, FMCSA said. Seventeen commenters opposed the exemption.

Still, like other hours of service exemption requests filed by individuals, FMCSA denied it, saying Olier “failed to establish that he would likely maintain a level of safety equivalent to, or greater than, the level achieved without the exemption.”

The agency also added that it agreed with certain commenters that if it were to exempt one driver, it could open the door for a huge number of similar exemptions. “Such a result would be inconsistent with a primary goal of the HOS regulations," FMCSA said, "which is to prevent crashes arising out of fatigued driving.”

FMCSA has denied several hours exemption requests of various natures in recent months, including those of owner-operators Lee and Lisa Schmitt late last year, truck driver Ronnie Brown III in January, small fleet Flat Top Transport and driver Wayne Moore Jr. in February, and driver Matthew Killmer earlier this month. 

[Related: Trucker seeks permanent hours of service exemption]

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Teamsters reach deal with TForce, as UPS readies for strike

TForce Freight and the Teamsters union on Thursday, July 13, tentatively agreed to terms for a new five-year national contract that provide improvements to wages and benefits.

Meanwhile, on Friday, July 14, UPS readied itself for a strike that could be just more than two weeks away. The company deployed training for "business continuity" to its employees across the U.S. 

The more than 7,000 Teamsters members at TForce had authorized a strike at TForce Freight, formerly UPS Freight and now a subsidiary of TFI International, if the two sides didn't reach an agreement by the July 31 expiration of their contract. 

“This contract contains zero concessions, only gains," said Sean M. O’Brien, Teamsters general president and chair of the Teamsters National Freight Industry Negotiating Committee (TNFINC). "Once again, Teamsters have proven that the only way to take on the employer and get the best contracts is by being a militant, fighting union."

The tentative agreement includes the highest wage increases in the history of the national contract, the union said, protections against subcontracting, a return to work for laid-off workers, pension increases, reduced insurance premiums, language against road drivers working the dock, work preservation (meaning no union work can be subcontracted if it means the displacement of a union employee), and card-check neutrality.

As for UPS, the company is locked in a battle with the Teamsters (IBT) over the renewal of a labor agreement that expires July 31. Teamsters represent more than 340,000 full- and part-time UPS workers, and the union has made clear that its UPS members will not work beyond the expiration of the current contract. Union members have already authorized a strike. 

UPS said Friday it remains focused on reaching an agreement with the union "that is a win for UPS employees, our customers, our union and our company before Aug. 1. While we have made great progress and are close to reaching an agreement, we have a responsibility as an essential service provider to take steps to help ensure we can deliver our customers’ packages if the Teamsters choose to strike."

Over the coming weeks, UPS said many of its non-Teamster U.S. employees will participate in training that would help them safely serve customers if there is a labor disruption.

"This temporary plan has no effect on current operations and the industry-leading service our people continue to provide for our customers," the package carrier said. 

[Related: 'I know I'm going to get hurt': Small fleet owner leads boycott of TQL over rates]

Freightliner eCascadias recalled over powertrain issue

Daimler Trucks North America is recalling approximately 82 2023-’24 electric eCascadias over a powertrain issue, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration documents.

Daimler said that the e-axle planetary gear set may not be welded properly, which can cause the e-motor to detach from the final drive, resulting in an undetectable and sudden loss of drive power without the ability to restart the vehicle.

The remedy to fix the issue is currently under development. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed Sept. 3. Owners can contact DTNA customer service at 800-547-0712 with recall number FL979. NHTSA’s recall number is 23V-467.

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