Costco, one of the world’s largest retailers, has stopped doing business with a California trucking company accused of trapping drivers in debt and then using it to force them to work overtime.
The action comes as brands across the U.S. face increased scrutiny for ignoring labor abuses in their supply lines, a widespread problem first revealed in a USA TODAY Network investigation in June.
Earlier this month, four prominent Democratic Senators, led by Sherrod Brown of Ohio, sent letters to 16 retailers, calling on them to root out “shameful” labor abuses first outlined by the USA TODAY Network.
Soon after, Costco Wholesale dropped Pacific 9 Transportation, one of the biggest port trucking companies in Southern California.
Hewlett-Packard also sent an auditor to investigate the company’s labor practices.
Both retailers declined to comment on their actions. Alan Ta, chief operating officer for Pacific 9, said that even before Costco withdrew, his company had stopped leasing trucks to drivers and launched a series of reforms to improve their pay.
A wave of pressure from retailers and manufacturers has hit port trucking operations across the industry, according to drivers who say their employers have been fielding calls from clients.
Those clients include Walmart, which pledged in a letter responding to the senators that it would cancel contracts with any trucking company that did not provide “assurances” it was following fair labor practices.
“The stories profiled in that article are deeply concerning,” Executive Vice President Jay Jorgensen wrote of the USA TODAY Network investigation, “Rigged.”
“Any motor carrier that fails to comply with law, such as those alleged in the article, would be in violation of our contract and would therefore be subject to cancellation,” he wrote.
The series revealed how port trucking companies in southern California have spent the past decade forcing drivers to finance their own trucks through company-sponsored lease-to-own programs they could not afford.
The longer drivers worked, the more trapped they felt. After just a few months, drivers typically had paid thousands of dollars towards a truck.
If drivers quit or got fired for any reason, most of them lost the truck and everything they had paid in. Many worked 20 hours a day to keep up with their truck payment and feed their family.
For years, Pacific 9 used the same kind of lease-to-own program.
Forty drivers have won California labor commissioner cases against Pacific 9, accusing the company of using the leases to cheat them of fair pay. Half of them testified that they had to work up to 19 hours a day, violating federal fatigue laws for truckers.
As the USA TODAY Network began investigating and as labor judgments piled up against Pacific 9, the company stopped using leases. In April 2016, facing almost $7 million in court-ordered back pay and penalties, the company filed for bankruptcy protection.
It has since started rehiring drivers as full-time employees and stopped charging them truck expenses.
Ta and many of his drivers said the company is now working to become a model for the rest of the industry.
Pacific 9’s sudden loss of business comes at a precarious time for the company – the tail end of drawn out bankruptcy negotiation with truckers.
Drivers and their attorneys sent at least two letters to the senators pleading with them to ease pressure on retailers using Pacific 9.
Rivera and Shackelford, a San Diego firm representing some Pacific 9 drivers, said Costco’s decision might “lead to the closing of Pacific 9 altogether,” undoing months of negotiations and possibly leaving drivers empty-handed.
“We believe this would be a tragedy,” the attorneys wrote.
Some drivers feel the same — even those who once testified about pervasive labor abuses inside the company.
“Pacific 9 has followed through on its commitments to us drivers,” wrote trucker Santiago Aguilar, who filed a labor claim against the company in 2013 and has since been rehired as an employee with full protections. Aguilar’s letter was signed by 13 others at the company. “Now, I get a fair day’s pay for a hard day’s work,” he said.
Pacific 9 is one of the busiest operators at the Long Beach and Los Angeles ports, according to port truck data obtained through a public records request.
Using the data, reporters tracked the movement of the company’s 160 trucks and found that they were on the clock for more than the 14-hour maximum set by federal law at least 7,500 times over three years. Almost all of the company’s rigs exceeded the time limit set for commercial truckers at least once.
But executives say those practices are a thing of the past.
“We have made significant change in our company and to our industry,” Ta said in an email.
Other companies that have used Pacific 9, either directly or as a subcontractor, include Hasbro and Goodyear. Hasbro did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
Goodyear spokesman Keith Price said the tire giant “took immediate action and ceased use of Pacific 9 within two weeks of the California Labor Commission’s ruling against them.”
With efforts to derail or delay the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s long-in-process electronic logging device mandate having taken yet another hit with the defeat of the House appropriations bill amendment that would have delayed the Dec. 18 deadline, some truckers are determined to raise the profile around the issue on their own. As you’ll hear in the latest Overdrive Radio podcast in players up top and below, two officially unaffiliated groups have marked Tuesday, Oct. 3 as the beginning date for staged demonstrations in Washington, D.C., with the professed support of some individual operators around the country shutting down throughout the four-to-five days following. Owner-operator Erick Engbarth, meanwhile, though not involved in either of those efforts, offered a clear distillation of objection to the mandate by owner-operators. Take a listen (more on the two groups below):
ELD or Me
Regular readers will recognize the name of the Facebook group started in mid-May by East Tennessee-based trucker singer-songwriter Tony Justice with the express purpose of firing up drivers around opposition to the ELD mandate. Very early on in the group’s history, as I reported in late May, it was settling around early October for a demonstration in the national capitol. For several weeks now, they’ve been promoting the Doswell Truck Stop in Doswell, Va., as a rally point for trucks South of D.C., the TravelCenters of America location in Jessup, Md., to the north. At Doswell, Justice reports in the podcast, shuttle vans will be on hand to transport truckers downtown, though many involved with the effort have reported plans to stay inside D.C. itself and rendezvous with the group near the White House over the dates they’ve scheduled for their demonstration: October 3-7.
Material circulating with that information lately has also encouraged those who can’t be in attendance, but who are sympathetic to the ELD or Me cause, to shut down and rally in or around their own location.
ELD or me, as you’ll hear in the podcast, is also working on getting Congressional reps’ ears directly while in the capitol, with hopes of spurring on support for Texas Congressman Brian Babin’s H.R. 3282 ELD mandate delay bill, which would extend the enforcement date two years. In the podcast, you’ll also hear from Delaware-based former small fleet owner and longtime compliance consultant Richard Wilson about the group and its efforts as well.
Justice offers advice to those preparing to come to Washington, D.C., in the podcast, and noted an information page on Facebook was in development to provide further information. You can access that page via this link, which is pretty sparse as yet.
Catch the story of its origins in the following archived post and a past podcast in which Justice shared his reasons for leading the effort:
Driverless trucks are seen as one of the most promising – and fraught – elements of the coming autonomous future on U.S. roads. Convoys of robo-trucks guided across the country by a single human driver – or none at all – could become a major economic force. They could be a boon to safety, or a particularly potent hazard, opposing advocates say.
They could also gobble up plenty of good-paying jobs.
And so lawmakers seeking bipartisan backing for the so-called Self Drive Act made clear that their definition of a “highly automated vehicle . . . does not include a commercial motor vehicle,” as the legislation puts it.
That means it doesn’t cover trucks bigger than 10,000 pounds, or vehicles meant to carry more than 10 passengers or hazardous materials.
The bill would block states from regulating “the design, construction, or performance” of automated vehicles, clarifying that such power is in federal hands. Many technology and car companies have warned that state legislators are leaving behind a “patchwork” of regulations that could dampen innovation and thwart travelers crossing state lines.
Some state officials, meanwhile, argue that federal guidelines on autonomous vehicles, which are voluntary, do too little to guarantee safety.
The U.S. Department of Transportation has been working on changes to the Obama-era policies, and Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao will travel to Michigan next week to describe updated guidelines.
The House legislation set to be considered Wednesday also allows automakers and tech companies to seek exemptions, totaling in the tens of thousands, from federal vehicle safety standards, as long the companies can ensure a car’s safety won’t be downgraded. That would allow, for example, an automaker to ditch the steering wheel to allow more creative driverless designs. The legislation also instructs Chao, within two years, to require “safety assessment certifications” that demonstrate driverless vehicles “are likely to . . . function as intended and contain fail safe features.”
The Self Drive Act came out of the House Energy and Commerce Committee with unanimous support this summer, offering a rare bipartisan win on a high-profile issue on which members are eager to show results.
A separate House committee, Transportation and Infrastructure, has jurisdiction over trucking, which meant backers of the Self Drive Act could avoid the touchy and potentially perilous driverless truck issue. But the Senate Commerce Committee, which handles transportation issues and which is crafting its own bill, has wrestled with trucking, and it’s not clear how the House and Senate approaches will eventually mesh.
The International Brotherhood of Teamsters was among the groups pushing Congress to stay clear of trucks.
James P. Hoffa, president of the Teamsters, said many issues remain with the House bill. But the union, which represents 600,000 drivers, commended Congress “for recognizing that a starting point for any discussion on this subject was that no legislation should impact commercial motor vehicles or traditional commercial drivers,” Hoffa said in a statement.
Hoffa said that the Teamsters must be at the center of any separate discussion on autonomy and trucking to make sure technology is “not used to put workers at risk on the job or destroy livelihoods and chip away at the middle class.”
But Michael Cammisa, vice president of safety and connectivity at the American Trucking Associations, said that the industry doesn’t think “it makes sense to write legislation without it applying to all vehicles, and that includes commercial trucks which account for 33.8 million registered vehicles and 450 billion miles traveled annually.”
Cammisa added that “it continues to be our belief that the technologies being developed today will assist, rather than supplant, drivers on the road.”
After hurricane Harvey devastated Texas, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced that 700 inspector positions were open to the public. No experience needed; inspectors would be required to temporarily relocate to affected areas in Texas.
Inspectors will be trained on how to conduct field inspections using FEMA software. Personnel will be reimbursed for travel expenses and will be paid weekly. The application deadline is August, 31, 2017.
By: AJOT | Aug 17 2017 at 09:37 AM | International Trade
Infrastructure is the backbone of developed nations. Our ability to move raw materials and finished products between domestic and world markets is critical to economic success. Right now, the U.S. freight transportation industry is at a crossroads and infrastructure funding is urgently needed to grow our economy. In recent years, transportation infrastructure investment has lagged, impacting the flow of goods for farmers, manufacturers, workers and consumers who must have access to the global marketplace.
This spring, an important roundtable was held in Indianapolis during national Infrastructure Week where a group of national and Midwest experts discussed the most critical issues facing America’s freight transportation system and our economy. Representatives from manufacturers, ports, steelmaking, mining, logistics, trucking, agriculture, departments of transportation, Corps of Engineers and academia shared their concerns about the urgent need for new infrastructure funding and the catastrophic consequences if we don’t act. Topics included:
- U.S. infrastructure lagging behind: American Society of Civil Engineers graded U.S. infrastructure as a D+ in 2016 and estimated that 56,000 bridges are structurally deficient, while over half of our locks and dams have exceeded their design life. Meanwhile, China lifted 400 million people out of poverty by heavily investing in infrastructure.
- Congestion killing productivity: Road and rail systems are carrying volumes beyond what they were designed for, which increases congestion. American Transportation Research Institute reported congested highways cost the trucking industry $63 billion in 2015 and caused 996 million hours of lost productivity. That’s equal to 362,000 trucks sitting idle for a year.
- 11 million jobs depend on one aging lock: U.S. Department of Homeland Security reported that if the Poe Lock failed for six months, the nation would be plunged into a recession resulting in the loss of 11 million jobs. Rebuilt in 1968, the aging lock is the only feasible passageway for raw materials to get to the U.S. steel industry, and upgrades are critical.
- $66 billion needed for U.S. ports: American Association of Port Authorities has identified a need for $66 billion in federal investments for critical port-related infrastructure over the next 10 years. Meanwhile, the port industry generates $320 billion annually in taxes, supports 23 million jobs and is investing $31 billion per year in infrastructure. Currently, the harbor maintenance taxes paid by shippers are much greater than the federal funds being allocated to maintain our harbors, and that needs to change.
- Indiana’s model could benefit nation: Indiana recently passed groundbreaking legislation that provides $1.2 billion in new annual funding for roads and bridges over the next 20 years. By building a strong coalition and developing a collaborative process for identifying needs and sources of funding, a statewide logistics council was able to build a comfort level with legislators and the public about the need for tax increases. Raising taxes used to be considered a “death knell” for re-elections, but that is no longer the case when it comes to infrastructure.
The answer is…
Funding is obviously needed to improve infrastructure, but securing sufficient support for the needed investing requires key components:
- Speak with one voice. This is a non-partisan issue that affects all modes of transportation and essentially every type of business.
- Support a comprehensive national strategy. States have taken the lead on developing highways, but a broader multimodal perspective is needed to invest wisely in a national freight system.
- Act now! It would not be wise to sit idle when the U.S. President is talking about making major investments in our country’s infrastructure. The time is now.
To that end, we call upon federal, state and local leaders to make infrastructure funding a top priority so that we can take our country’s economy to the next level.
This column was jointly written by Kurt Nagle, CEO/President of the American Association of Port Authorities, and Rich Cooper, Ports of Indiana CEO and board member of AAPA, to share industry concerns about the U.S freight transportation infrastructure. We thank you for considering this op-ed.
I received an email from an owner-operator this weekend with a few questions regarding the federal government’s fast-approaching mandate for electronic logging devices.
The rule hasn’t changed since its publication in December 2015 (though FMCSA has altered its interpretations of the rule’s key exemption), but there seems to be lore among some in the industry about who must comply with the mandate and when.
Given the apparent misinformation making the rounds among drivers, let’s dispel some of the rumors and provide an update on the efforts — which is all they are at present — to delay the mandate.
Compliance date: “I’ve been told by a few people it’s been pushed back until 2019,” said my weekend’s correspondent.
That, however, is false.
Truckers who use paper logs and run a year-model 2000 and later engine must adopt either an electronic logging device or an automatic onboard recording device by Dec. 17, 2017, to operate legally. Those caught without an ELD will be placed out of service.
A bill has been filed in the House to delay the mandate two years, to December 2019, but its fate in Congress is uncertain, and time is waning for lawmakers to act. However, as of Monday, the bill had 35 co-sponsors in the House, which means the bill has at least some support in Congress’ lower chamber.
Small fleet exemption: “Last I knew, the mandate was for [fleets with] over 10 trucks…” wrote the owner-operator who emailed me this weekend.
Also false. Even single-truck owner-operators must comply with the mandate.
Pre-2000 exemption: “…and for models newer than 1999.”
The driver I exchanged emails with this weekend was correct about the 1999 and earlier waiver — to an extent. FMCSA recently changed course on the pre-2000 exemption. Until last month, it had said the pre-2000 exemption would apply to trucks whose model year was 1999 and earlier, as evidenced by the truck’s VIN number, which includes the model year.
In mid-July, the agency scrapped the interpretation. It now says the exemption will apply to the engine year, meaning trucks with model-year 1999 engines and earlier will not need to be equipped with an ELD. Drivers are not required to carry documentation stating their engine year, but such information must be kept “at the principal place of business.”
Less than three months after launching, Uber Freight is expanding into new markets and building out its on-demand freight app, adding personalized features and push notifications to make it easier for drivers to find work.
The ride-hailing technology company’s fledgling logistics business is expanding efforts to sign up drivers located in the West, Midwest and South. Uber Freight has used Texas as a testbed from its soft launch in late 2016 through its public debut in May, though drivers on the app have been delivering loads from the state throughout the country, the company said.
As of this week, the company is actively marketing to drivers and shippers in major metropolitan areas in California, Arizona, the Chicago-Midwest region, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina.
The updates come as competition intensifies among on-demand freight matching startups looking to disrupt the established logistics industry. Venture firms are expected to pour $1 billion into cloud-based freight platforms this year, including Convoy, which raised $62 million in a new financing round late last month.
Uber Freight won’t disclose how many drivers are using its cloud-based load-matching platform and accompanying mobile app, how many shippers it is working with or other specifics. However, loads from current shippers have increased “about 10 times since the beginning of the year,” said Eric Berdinis, product manager at Uber Freight.
“We’re growing at an Uber-like pace,” said Bill Driegert, director of Uber Freight.
Whatever growth Uber Freight is experiencing comes despite ongoing problems at Uber, including the continuing search to fill the chief executive job vacated when founder Travis Kalanick was forced out earlier this summer. The problems at its parent company come up occasionally in Uber Freight’s discussions with customers, but so far, it has not affected business, Driegert said.
“The product speaks for itself,” he said. “We’re heads down focused on building out the best product we can. If we build the right product for our customers, that’s ultimately what matters.”
Despite its troubles, Uber has billions of dollars in investor cash the company can use to bankroll Uber Freight to get it running without having to worry about turning a profit, said John Larkin, transportation and logistics industry analyst with Stifel Equity Research.
Though they’ve got a lot going for them, startups such as Uber Freight and Convoy are recreating what’s already offered by traditional brokers such as CH Robinson and Coyote, which have been working on updating their own technology to make it more user-friendly, Larkin said.
“The question becomes how comfortable are shippers dealing with startups that are heavy on tech and a little light on the freight side,” he said.
New App Features
To encourage sign ups, Uber Freight updated its mobile app so drivers can set load preferences based on location, hometown, past loads and other specifications. The app uses push notifications – technology that flashes an alert onto a mobile device even when an app isn’t open – to point drivers to available loads that match their preferences.
In the coming weeks, Uber Freight plans to add features that will show drivers “packs” of local, short- or long-haul loads, along with a “For You” pack that includes all personalized recommendations.
Uber Freight continues to limits its service only to full truckloads, though the company is beginning to experiment with other types of services, Driegert said
Trucker Ferdinand Heres of Knoxville, Tenn., signed up with Uber Freight in May. (Photo: Ferdinand Heres)
Ferdinand Heres, an owner-operator who runs out of Knoxville, Tenn., downloaded the app when it became available in May. Since then, he has used it almost exclusively, for approximately 30 loads. He calls the experience so far “picture perfect.”
That’s not the experience he had with other load boards advertising cargo that was gone by the time he saw them.
“I like it much better,” said Heres, owner of Heres Transport. “You look at the loads and prices and take it or leave it.”
Uber Freight has connected him with both small shippers and large companies. Compared to other brokers he’s worked with, Uber Freight is “better organized than just the average, and a little bit more professional,” Heres said.
Phoenix-based Circle H Intermodal is using Uber Freight’s push into new territory to expand its own business. The 42-truck interstate carrier is expanding the lanes it runs from its current territory of the West, Southwest and Texas into the Midwest and Ohio basin area, said Edward Hampton, a partner and the chief executive of Circle H.
Also, four of the company’s 35 drivers have been using the Uber Freight app with such positive results the company is giving it to 15 more drivers this month. Information on loads has been accurate, and the company normally gets paid in 48 hours or less, Hampton said.
“When we need to call in we get a live [person] for answers to questions we have. In my opinion, it’s been a great union,” he said.
Uber Freight’s effort to market itself as a driver-friendly service extends to sponsoring an annual concert at the Great American Truck Show expo later this month in Dallas. The “Take a Load Off With GATS and Uber Freight” concert stars Tony Justice and two other country singers who are either truckers or have truck-driver connections.
A provision in a House funding bill that would delay implementation of electronic logging devices for carriers that serve the agricultural sector faces an uphill battle and drew immediate criticism from the trucking industry.
Language in the same bill that would pre-empt state laws for meal and rest breaks for truckers faces a clearer path forward, however, as it already has backing in the Senate.
A report accompanying the 2018 funding measure, advanced by the House on July 17, includes a provision that would require a study of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s mandate for adoption of ELDs, but it has not gained traction among House leaders and senior senators. Lacking such endorsements just a few months before the mandate’s Dec. 18 implementation hurts the chances of any changes to it reaching the president’s desk.
The report directs FMCSA to provide Congress with a study within 60 days of the bill’s enactment into law that would outline options for delaying the mandate. If the legislation is reported out of the chamber, any provisions different from what Senators approve in their bill would need to be reconciled before a final bill reaches the president. If the ELD provision clears those hurdles and the bill is signed into law, FMCSA would then have two months to deliver the report to Congress.
“Many carriers have delayed purchase and installation of ELDs until they can be certain the technology will be compliant,” according to the bill’s report. FMCSA strongly backs the ELD mandate, as do industry stakeholders, including American Trucking Associations.
With carriers already preparing for the mandate, the House provision might raise alarm within the industry. However, ATA Executive Vice president for Advocacy Bill Sullivan told Transport Topics in a July 19 interview that the narrow exemption sought by a small sector of the agricultural industry is not a delay of the ELD mandate.
“Concerns about ELD compliance from some quarters of the industry, we believe, are wrongly directed at electronic logging, when they’re in fact concerns about hours-of-service rules,” Sullivan said. “The electronic logging device was a rule mandated by Congress. … Congress is who brought this to the attention of the agency. Congress is going to back it up.”
The House bill would not fund in fiscal 2018 enforcement of the mandate for carriers transporting livestock and insects. The report explained that lawmakers sought to address concerns raised by livestock haulers by calling on FMCSA to continue using its “regulatory tools to grant relief that appropriately reconciles highway safety with the unique needs of these carriers” and the livestock.
The scope of the meal and rest break provision is more far-reaching and benefits from a companion provision in a Senate aviation reauthorization bill. That provision is sponsored by Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), chairwoman of the Surface Transportation Subcommittee, which oversees trucking regulations.
The legislation calls on a “state, political subdivision of a state, or political authority of two or more states” to not enact or enforce a law having to do with meal and rest break requirements. ATA is among the groups supporting the provision and noted to its membership that it would clarify a requirement in a 1994 aviation law to block a California law signed in 2011.
The California law requires employers to provide a “duty-free” 30-minute meal break for employees who work more than five hours a day as well as a second “duty-free” 30-minute meal break for those who work more than 10 hours a day.
An attempt by Rep. David Price (D-N.C.) to strip the meal and rest break provision from the bill was rejected along party lines.
The panel also rejected an amendment by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) that would have restored the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grants in fiscal 2018. The House bill would cancel the TIGER grants, for which Congress authorized $500 million in fiscal 2017.
Other trucking provisions tucked into the bill included prohibiting FMCSA from proceeding with a safety fitness determination rule until the DOT’s inspector general issues certain certifications required under law.
The measure, which would fund the U.S. Department of Transportation through fiscal 2018, was reported to the House floor on a 31-20 vote, mostly along party lines.
It would provide $17.8 billion for the DOT’s discretionary budget for the next fiscal year. The request from the Trump administration came in at $16.2 billion for the department.
The bill also would provide FMCSA with $758 million, a $113.6 million increase over fiscal 2017. Nearly half that funding would go toward safety assistance programs. Also, $31.8 million would go for a commercial driver license implementation program, and $43.1 million would be earmarked for high-priority activities.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration would receive $927 million, which would be $15 million above the fiscal 2017 level, and the Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration would receive $268 million, which would be $3.7 million above the fiscal 2017 level.
“We have targeted funding in this bill to essential investments in safety, infrastructure and housing assistance for our most vulnerable populations,” said Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.), the chamber’s top transportation funding leader.
“Safety is also a priority in this bill, with responsible increases provided for DOT’s various transportation safety programs and essential funding maintained for rail safety,” Appropriations Committee Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.) said.
A bill has been filed in the U.S. House to delay the compliance date of the federal government’s electronic logging device mandate two years, to December 2019. The change, if enacted, would give owner-operators two additional years to switch from paper logs to an electronic logging device.
The legislation was introduced Tuesday and referred to the House’s Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
Texas Republican Rep. Brian Babin filed the ELD Extension Act of 2017. Babin’s introduction of the bill came a day after a House panel recommended that the U.S. DOT study whether a “full or targeted delay” of the mandate is needed. Both developments signal that efforts to engage Congress on the issue have gained traction. In a report issued Monday, members of the House cited the burden placed on smaller carriers, like owner-operators, and questions surrounding enforcement and “technological concerns” as reasons to delay the ELD mandate.
For Babin’s ELD delay bill to become law, it must be passed by the House and Senate and signed by President Trump.
Other than passed as a standalone bill, the legislation could also be attached to broader legislation, such as the DOT appropriations bills currently in the works in both chambers of Congress.
Lawmakers have used the DOT funding bills as avenues to enact trucking policy reforms in recent years, such as the reversal of some of the hours of service changes implemented in 2013.
“Uber for trucking,” long considered a freight-matching unicorn, has come to a kind of fruition, with the ride-sharing giant today unveiling its brokerage’s Uber Freight matching app aimed at the owner-operator market with a focus on dry van and reefer loads.
The unveiling comes as one of the company’s other initiatives, its autonomous vehicle development subsidiary Otto, is embroiled in a lawsuit with Google, who claims Uber and Otto stole trade secrets related to autonomous truck tech.
Uber Freight Senior Product Manager Eric Berdinis says the company leaned on its expertise in matching supply and demand and building pricing algorithms in the passenger market, transforming that process into matching freight with owner-operators and small fleets.
“We’re technically a brokerage,” Berdinis says, “and we do that so we can take ownership of the freight and pay our drivers and carriers quickly.”
That aspect, Berdinis says, is what Uber Freight believes will differentiate the company from similar services already in the marketplace.
“We value [prompt payment for delivery] as one of our big promises to our app users,” he says. “Regardless of when the shipper pays us, we’ll pay out for any load that is taken out on our app within a couple days, no questions asked.”
Read full article here.