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Monday Jul 28, 2014 - Drivers Take on Low Wages in an Industry Built on a Lie
It's a David and Goliath story, only in this case there are 120 Davids taking on a hidden Goliath of an industry that every day touches everyone who is reading this in hundreds of ways. The port trucking industry is built on an illegal fiction, designed to rip off the 120 drivers who went on strike at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach this week.

They are not alone; 49,000 port truck drivers around the country work long hours at low pay with no benefits or basic worker protections like unemployment insurance or workers compensation, because the industry misclassifies them as independent contractors. The drivers' courageous action is one more facet of a surging labor and community movement, which is starting to take on the captains of America's low-wage economy.

Virtually everything you are wearing now that was made overseas came through our nation's ports. So did every imported item in your office or home. Port truck drivers transported those goods from ship terminals to rail yards and warehouse centers, for distribution to stores around the country. Starting more than 30 years ago, when the trucking industry was deregulated during the Carter administration, the industry was taken over by firms with a business model based on driving down drivers' incomes by treating them as independent contractors instead of employees.

The new model was based on a lie. The drivers weren't really independent truck drivers, with their own rigs. They still worked for one distribution company, which totally controlled everything about their work - their hours, their shipments, the rates they were paid. The company supplied the trucks they drove. But by insisting the drivers accept the new arrangement if they wanted to work, the companies avoided paying payroll taxes, workers compensation, and unemployment benefits, let alone health or retirement benefits. The drivers were forced to pay to lease, fuel and maintain the trucks out of their own paychecks.

The result of this scam has been high profits for the companies, lower wages and no workplace protections for the drivers, plus big losses to the social insurance funds. This arrangement put employers who complied with the law by continuing to treat their workers as employees at a competitive disadvantage.

The port drivers' story is emblematic of the forces that crushed America's middle class. Good paying, often union jobs were replaced by low wage, no-benefit jobs. "Manufactured in the U.S." was displaced by foreign goods, sold to consumers through the Wal-Marts and Home Depots and other giant retailers that perch at the end of global supply chains. Government, stripped of resources and will by corporate lobbyists and their wholly-owned elected officials, sat by while the law was violated and social insurance programs were weakened. And corporate profits soared.

But times are beginning to change. The strike in Southern California carries with it all the elements and power of the new movement of low-wage workers and their allies to create a good jobs economy. The foundation of the strategy is the willingness of low-wages workers to risk their jobs to fight back. The strategy is driven by strategic, legal, and financial assistance supplied by labor unions, partnerships with community groups, and public campaigns against big brand names.

The strikers, like many other port drivers, are mostly immigrants who often don't speak English. Only recently did they become aware that their rights were being violated, after a free legal clinic was set up by two community groups at the port. Since then, drivers have filed more than 400 claims against companies under California's wage and hour laws. The first 19 rulings resulted in an average award of $66,240, largely for wage and hour violations and illegal paycheck deductions for items like truck leases.

The claims are part of an aggressive legal strategy, which includes filings under California's wage and hour laws, class action suits, and claims that the companies are violating federal labor laws. The goal is for the firms to face such an onslaught of fines and court orders that they will begin to realize it would be better to abide by the law, rather than continue to defend their practices in court. California Attorney General Kamala Harris could be hugely helpful here if she used the growing number of cases to insist on an industry wide compliance settlement.

The companies are fighting back. "It's all out war," an attorney for two workers who were fired for both supporting a union and pressing wage claims, told me. Green Fleet, the company that fired the workers and one of the companies being picketed, is using the full arsenal of union-busting tactics, including firing workers who are leading union efforts and hiring union busters who threaten workers. The company's goal is to terrify other workers, so that they won't support forming a union or file wage claims.

The NLRB ruled in the workers' favor, establishing that they are employees, not independent contractors, but Green Fleet is appealing in order to delay any relief. The fired workers' attorneys are asking a federal judge to immediately order the companies to rehire the workers who were fired and to inform all the workers of their right to form a union and protest unfair labor practices.

In the face of this illegal harassment, the 120 drivers at Green Fleet and other firms walked off the job. They want to join the Teamsters union, which is providing key strategic support to their efforts through their Justice for Port Drivers campaign. Many drivers recently saw the benefits of unionization when drivers won union representation at Toll Global Holdings, an Australian based company, which is unionized in their home country. The unionized drivers actually get paid for the hours they spend waiting to pick up merchandise, and receive better wages and benefits.

Los Angeles' well-organized community-labor coalition, led by LAANE, has turned out hundreds of picketers to join the drivers. The picketers block company trucks driven by drivers who have not joined the strike. The pickets create even longer lines of trucks at the marine terminals, where ships arrive with containers full of goods. This is one way that the strikers can exercise the economic power to get the companies to settle. The Teamsters report that already some terminals have told the companies being struck to stop picking up goods in order to clear the blockade.

Another weapon in the campaign is public pressure on the big brands that are the ultimate beneficiaries of the low-wages paid to the port drivers. All of Skechers shoes are delivered by Green Fleet. Protestors attended Skechers' annual shareholder meetings, have leafleted stores, and this week had a plane fly over the company's flagship L.A. store with a banner that read, "Skechers - laced with misery". As LAANE's Danny Feingold points out, unlike some other retailers, such as Nike, Skechers has refused to sign a code of conduct with labor standards for its contractors.

Another element in the port drivers' campaign, as in low-wage workers' campaigns nationally, is a push to change public policy. There are some 75,000 port drivers around the country, of whom 49,000 are misclassified as independent contractors. The New York and New Jersey legislatures both passed bills in the last year toughening standards and enforcement for misclassification of port truck drivers. While New Jersey's Governor Chris Christie vetoed that state's bill, the New York legislation signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo includes strict standards and most importantly, civil and criminal penalties.

There is a new movement growing in America, comprised of courageous low-wage workers and backed by unions, community groups, and activists to take on the huge companies that drive the low-wage economy. From fast food, to Wal-Mart, to workers who make car seats and immigrants who wash cars, the movement is learning a new strategy, based on mobilizing workers and the public. The twin goals of this movement are to enable workers to organize unions and to enact new public policy to rebuild the middle class. You can support the movement now, and lend a hand to port drivers who are on strike, by learning more about Justice for Drivers Hardship Fund. Remember, the device on which you are reading this now was delivered by a port driver.

Originally published on Next New Deal.



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Monday Jul 28, 2014 - Trucking’s future looks great — for those who can adapt
As you have read in recent weeks, technological changes — and big ones — are coming to trucking.

And as reported last week, the outlook for freight, trucking revenues and the industry in general is very positive for the next decade, according to a recent report by the American Trucking Associations, who expects trucking’s share of freight to grow, freight itself to grow and revenues to nearly double by 2025.

Combine that expected growth with rapidly changing technology and you have a time of upheaval in trucking, writes Overdrive Equipment Editor Jack Roberts in a column on OD sister site CCJ.

RELATED
Trucking revolution: Industry to see drastic changes in coming years from tech advancements

big, revolutionary changes are coming to the industry — and likely within the next decade — says OD Equipment Editor Jack Roberts, based on the technology he's seen on a two-week tour of European truck and component manufacturers.

Roberts predicts the industry will change more in the next 10 to 20 years than it has in the last 50.

But the good news is there’s plenty of money to be made in all of this change, Roberts writes, despite big challenges facing the industry, such as volatile fuel prices, ever-increasing regulation, changing vehicle technology, higher operating costs, dire infrastructure needs and a (debatable) shortage of drivers.

Roberts explores all of those issues in the full write-up on CCJ.

However, freight’s going to be moving in 2025, he writes, and there will be money behind it: The question is will you be one of the ones hauling it?

It’ll take owner-operators wise enough and savvy enough to figure out the changes and use them to their advantage who will thrive in the new environment, Roberts writes.



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Sunday Jul 27, 2014 - New broker bond: The 75K solution?
By Colin Barrett http://www.joc.com

Q: I’ve been hearing a lot about the requirement that motor carrier brokers carry a bond for $75,000. Most of the commentary I’ve encountered has been from the broker industry, and most of it, of course, has been negative. The common idea seems to be that the new requirement is unfair to smaller brokers, and will tend to price them out of the industry.

I’m not sure I agree with this. I acknowledge that a $75,000 bond will be something of a hardship on the small broker, but I think that’s partially offset by the fact that it will help keep fly-by-night scam artists out of the industry. I’ve seen it happen much too often: Somebody opens a new brokerage, lowballs prices to shippers to attract business, sets up with carriers that are scrambling for traffic themselves, moves a lot of freight in a short period of time, collects from the shippers, stiffs the carriers and then disappears. Not long afterward, you often see the same individual setting up shop somewhere else to repeat the same scenario. Anything that will keep these people out of the industry must be a good thing.

Even so, is that the only purpose of the increased bond requirement? I ask this because among all the comments I’ve read about the bond, I don’t seem to find any from people — especially the shippers and carriers that the bond is supposed to be protecting — who express the opinion that it’s beneficial in that regard. Do you disagree?

Apparently, Congress is of the view that $75,000 is a more appropriate bond requirement for the contemporary brokerage industry in terms of offering protection to those who might be injured if a broker went out of business. But will it really have that effect? If so, why don’t I hear people defending it on this basis? Or is the real purpose of the new requirement simply too thin out the ranks of those setting up as brokers?

A: Well, you have something of a point.

The original requirement for a broker bond was conceived in the 1940s when the brokerage industry was structured very differently than it is now. In that era, brokers didn’t collect freight charges from shippers, nor pay carriers directly. The only money they ever had in their hands was that owing to them. The $10,000 bond amount seemed quite appropriate in those circumstances.

Once brokerage morphed into its current form beginning in the early 1980s, however, that $10,000 bond became a joke. A typical broker might incur debts far in excess of that sum in a single day.

The new $75,000 requirement is still the same joke, albeit one with bigger numbers. The amount still falls woefully short of the obligations that even a very small failing broker is likely to leave behind.

For example, one kind reader has shared with me some of the situations that have arisen with a broker who went out of business. The bonding company was so swamped with claims that it felt compelled to turn the matter over to the courts for resolution. The sum of the claims didn’t merely exceed the $75,000 bond, but they dwarfed it, to the point that the best creditors could hope for was a few cents on the dollar after the bond amount was apportioned.

Much worse than that, because the bond company felt obliged to take recourse to the courts for allocation of the payout, claimants were required to pursue their claims through the court system — a process that required them to pay a filing fee of several hundred dollars each (or else forfeit their claims). Add it up. For many claimants, the filing fee would be more than they could reasonably hope to recover.

And it gets worse, in fact. You could scarcely expect the bonding company not to ensure its own representation before the court. So the bonding company would incur legal expenses in conjunction with this matter. One of the bonding company’s early requests to the court was that those legal expenses be treated as a priority claim against the bond, meaning they would come off the top before any money was distributed to other claimants.

Because any claimant with enough money at stake to warrant paying the filing fee also will incur its own legal fees, I can’t imagine anyone except the lawyers is likely to show any profit from this mess.

Thus, to answer your question, I don’t think the $75,000 bond is likely to offer any real protection to shippers or carriers in the case of a broker default.

Consultant, author and educator Colin Barrett is president of Barrett Transportation Consultants. Send your questions to him at 5201 Whippoorwill Lane, Johns Island, S.C. 29455; phone, 843-559-1277; e-mail, BarrettTrn@aol.com. Contact him to order the most recent 351-page compiled edition of past Q&A columns, published in 2010.



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Sunday Jul 27, 2014 - Lack of truck drivers jackknifes Swift profits
By Michael Gray and Post Wire

Swift Transportation, the largest trucker in North America, saw its shares crater 16 percent on Friday after it said it could not find enough truck drivers and that it would hurt future earnings.
The firm, which has a large facility near the Port of Elizabeth in New Jersey, said it was “constrained” by a challenging driver market, which led to higher turnover than was anticipated.
“There has been a driver shortage that has been getting incrementally worse as the economy improves and they have to fight for employees with the housing sector,” Lee Klaskow, an analyst, told Bloomberg.
“You see some carriers passing on rate increases to drivers, but for whatever reason, Swift has had a harder time attracting and retaining drivers,” he added
The American Trucking Association has issued repeated warnings that the North American trucking market has lost more than 30,000 drivers in the past few years and anticipates that shortfall could skyrocket to 200,000 in the next decade, according to a statement on its Web site.




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Sunday Jul 27, 2014 - Trucker Sentenced For Hauling Marijuana With Produce
A La Palma, California truck driver was sentenced in Lincoln Thursday for hauling hundreds of pounds of marijuana into the state.

Forty-nine-year-old Julio Sanchez was given two to four years and credited for 261 days already served. He'd pleaded no contest to attempted possession of a controlled substances for sale. Prosecutors had lowered the original charge and dropped another in exchange for Sanchez's plea.

The Nebraska State Patrol says 730 pounds of pot was found hidden in boxes of produce found inside a semi driven by Sanchez last November. The marijuana's street value was estimated at $2.5 million.



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Sunday Jul 27, 2014 - What’s still holding back rail service?
Larry Gross

When rail service tanked last winter, a key culprit was easily visible. In the center of the polar vortex, the intermodal hub of Chicago was besieged by a never-ending series of bruising winter storms and frigid temperatures that hampered operations and drove the local railroads into the ground. But now it’s the middle of summer. The snow melted long ago, but service continues to sputter, showing little improvement from levels seen during the depths of winter. Why?

Average train speedsTrain speeds came in at 28.3 mph for the week of the July 4th holiday, though they have recovered slightly in the two weeks since.
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For one, the brutal winter was a big contributor to the slowdown, but it wasn’t the only cause. Rail service began to slip long before. Four-week average speeds for all intermodal trains topped out in early 2013 at 33.4 mph. Speeds since then have seemingly been riding the down escalator, coming in at 28.3 mph for the week of the July 4thholiday, though they recovered slightly in the two weeks since. With the exception of one week in 2008, you have to go back to 2006 to find speeds as low as they were in early July.

When rail service starts to deteriorate, the first signs are usually visible in the classification yards and intermodal terminals. As weather or other events disrupt operations, the yards back up because trains aren’t dispatched in a timely fashion. Clogged terminals mean there’s nowhere to put arriving inbound trains.

Unlike a truck, you can’t park a mile-long double-stack train just anywhere. Spare track is expensive, and the days when the railroads had lots of excess track on which to park the occasional train are long gone. So when terminals bog down, the trains end up getting parked on the mainline. The locomotives on those parked trains aren’t available in the terminal to handle outbound trains.

Average intermodal train speedsIntermodal trains have slowed year-over-year.
Full-size chart
When space does become available in the yard, a “dog catch” relief crew must bring the train home. But these crewmembers likewise aren’t available to move outbound trains. Meanwhile, those parked trains also are filling passing sidings that otherwise would be used in normal operations, or converting sections of double-track mainlines to single track.

This slows operations, reducing train velocity and further impairing the productivity of locomotives and crews. The result is a downward spiral that becomes ever more difficult to break. As operations slow and yards clog, ever-greater numbers of locomotives and crew — both long-lead items — are needed just to stay even, much less reduce the backlog.

Now layer on top of this a surge in volume, not just in intermodal but virtually across the board. All but a few major rail carload commodity groups are showing strong gains in the second quarter. Unlike trucking companies, the railroads have little ability to control demand. Confronted with a shortage of trucks or drivers, the motor carrier can decline offered loads, providing the organization with the breathing room to recover. The railroads, with their common-carrier responsibility, don’t have an equivalent mechanism.

Rail carload and intermodal volumes have been up strongly. Over the most recent four-week period, intermodal was up 7.7 percent year-over-year, and rail carloads were up 5.9 percent. Some of this was catch-up volume from the winter service disruptions. Utility coal stockpiles need rebuilding, and mountains of grain from last year’s bumper crop need to move. Some of the growth is volume shifting to intermodal because of the shortage of over-the-road drivers.

Average yard dwell timesYard dwell times are on the rise.
Full-size chart
Another factor was import volume moving early through the West Coast to avoid potential disruptions that loomed with the July 1 expiration of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union contract.

Although intermodal is setting new records, the same can’t be said for rail carload. Even with the recent surge, rail carload volume (excluding intermodal) is running more than 6 percent behind pre-recession levels, and the railroads have invested billions of dollars in their networks since then.

This implies that the problem isn’t a shortage of track, at least in a general sense. There are, however, local problems, most notably on BNSF’s Northern Tier between the Midwest and Pacific Northwest. But the broad problem is a shortage of crews and locomotives, both long-lead items that can’t be ramped up quickly.

The western railroads have essentially locked up 2014 locomotive production with their current orders, so it’s not clear where the eastern roads, which have equivalent problems in terms of locomotive capacity, will find more horsepower. The advent of Tier 4 emission requirements on Jan. 1 further clouds the 2015 locomotive picture. The railroads are hiring crews and training them at an accelerated rate, but bringing them on line will be a long process.

Little time remains before the intermodal ramp-up to peak season, so it’s unlikely we’ll see substantive improvement in operations until after that pressure has eased. This means intermodal shippers shouldn’t expect any meaningful gains until the end of this year at best, and that’s assuming the polar vortex doesn’t make an encore appearance.

Lawrence Gross is president of Gross Transportation Consulting in Mahwah, New Jersey, and a partner at FTR Transportation Intelligence. A veteran with 34 years in the transportation business, he covers freight transportation, concentrating on the intermodal and trucking sectors from a transportation and equipment perspective. He is a frequent speaker at industry events. Contact him at ljgross@optonline.net and follow him on Twitter: @intermodalist.



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Sunday Jul 27, 2014 - Swift Transportation promises ‘enhanced’ driver pay as shortage crimps growth
William B. Cassidy, Senior Editor

Swift Transportation, the largest U.S. truckload operator, got even bigger in the second quarter, but potential growth was restrained, the company said, by a “challenging driver market.”

“Our driver turnover and unseated truck count were higher than anticipated,” Swift said in a letter to shareholders. In reaction, the company sold trucks to offset the impact of idle equipment.

“We believe the best investment we can make at this time, for all our stakeholders, is in our drivers,” the company said. “Our goal is to clear the path for our drivers by helping them overcome challenges, eliminate wait times and take home more money. We believe we can accomplish this through improved productivity and enhanced pay packages.”

Swift’s difficulty finding drivers in the second quarter signals the shortage of available drivers will be the leading check on over-the-road truckload capacity this peak shipping season. The company is one of the largest employers in trucking, with about 14,700 drivers and 19,600 employees at the end of 2013. Swift also has contracts with more than 5,000 owner-operators.

The so-called driver shortage is a roadblock to expansion, limiting incremental growth in truck capacity, and a prime reason truck rates are rising at a faster pace in 2014. The number of heavy truck or tractor-trailer drivers increased 1.9 percent in 2013, after rising 3.2 percent in 2012 and 2.9 percent in 2011, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The number of drivers fell 13.4 percent from 2007 to 2010 and has risen only 8.1 percent since.

Increasingly, truckload carriers are caught in a Catch 22-like situation: They need more drivers to increase revenue, but the cost of those drivers is eating into profit margins and limiting their ability to hire more drivers. The likely solution will entail even higher truckload rates.

In its shareholder letter, Swift said rate increases will likely hit the 4 to 5 percent range this fall. Higher pricing supported a 3.7 percent increase in revenue per loaded mile, excluding fuel surcharges, in the second quarter, and pricing momentum is growing, the company said.

Even so, Swift is bracing for cost headwinds in the second half of 2014 as it tests and implements several driver initiatives. “The investment in our drivers will be more immediate and the benefits are expected to be derived over time,” the truckload carrier said. “We believe by making these investments now, we can deliver on our goals for 2015 and beyond.”

Overall, Swift’s total revenue rose 4.5 percent year-over-year to $1.08 billion, and 6.7 percent from the first quarter. But two out of four divisions reported lower revenue than a year ago, and three reported lower profits, including an operating loss at Swift’s intermodal division. The company’s net profit declined 19.4 percent from a year ago to $40.2 million as operating expenses rose 5.7 percent. Salaries, wages and benefit costs rose 6.3 percent.

Swift’s truckload revenue — which accounts for about 53 percent of the $3 billion company’s total revenue — actually shrank 2 percent year-over-year in the quarter to $459.1 million, excluding fuel surcharges, partly because Swift shifted some truckload resources to its dedicated division. Truckload profit, however, rose 7.7 percent to $69.6 million.

The dedicated business grew 22.1 percent, with revenue sans surcharges rising 23.1 percent in the quarter to $183.3 million. “We have seen a dramatic increase in demand for our dedicated service offering over the past six to nine months, which has led to strong growth, but the associated start-up costs have placed short-term pressure on margins,” Swift said. Also, although more drivers are attracted to dedicated work, which is often short-haul in distance, allowing for regular home time, dedicated driver pay per mile is higher, Swift said.

The dedicated division’s adjusted operating profit dropped 13 percent to $21.1 million.

Lack of drivers also crimped revenue at Swift’s Central Refrigerated segment, which saw revenue excluding surcharges drop 1.3 percent to $86 million and its operating profit drop 35.3 percent to $3.7 million. The refrigerated business, acquired by Swift last August, also fielded fewer trucks, and had higher costs due to ongoing systems integration with Swift.

Swift increased intermodal revenue, excluding surcharges, 11.9 percent to $80.8 million, driven by a 10.9 percent increase in loads. But the intermodal unit lost $495,000, compared with a $788,000 operating profit a year ago. The division is expected to get back on track as Swift expands its fleet of domestic intermodal containers, adding 500 containers in the late third quarter. “These new containers are expected to drive further revenue growth and improve margins as we drive efficiency in our operating assets and better absorb our fixed costs,” Swift said.

Contact William B. Cassidy at wcassidy@joc.com and follow him on Twitter: @wbcassidy_joc.



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Friday Jul 25, 2014 - An Eye Opening Look at the Trucking Industry
Following the fatal crash on I-55, a listener sent WJOL a letter detailing her experience with truckers and trucking companies. Below is her opinion unedited.



I spend a lot of time on the road as our jobs are onsite. I work with many truckers who are working at the Intermodals. This is what I have learned and I am passing it on as it concerns me.

Many of the truck companies own only 1-2 trucks. The owner will accept a job, at say, $1500. It is local and it is picking up a trailer at an intermodal and delivering it to a location, say, Peoria Caterpillar. The owner of the small firm hires a truck driver as an independent contractor at $800 for the job, leases the truck to the driver at a set fee and makes the driver buy the fuel. However, in order for the driver to collect the $800, he has to make the round trip including delivery of the trailer and pick-up of another trailer and return the truck with a full load, within 8 hours. If it is beyond the time limit the hired driver gets no money but is still responsible for the payment and bills.
You know how long it takes to drive to Peoria and back and this seems to be a reasonable amount of time, but if you get caught up in traffic., or it takes a while to load or unload the trailer, suddenly you are running short on time, so you speed, find shortcuts, etc to make sure you get your money.
Some of these truck owners do not do background checks, you only need to have a current CDL. Some of the drivers can speak no English and require a translator. They cannot read or write English, but yet they have a current CDL license. They can't read the signs put into place warning them of possible slowdowns or construction or time delays.
They are of several nationalities and numerous races of persons. Many have only been here a few short weeks, came here legally, and have this type of job waiting for them.

Thought you might want to know this.



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Friday Jul 25, 2014 - Farmers, rail companies facing challenges moving grain
It has been a dramatic year for grain farmers.

A massive bumper crop followed by a hard time moving it across the prairies inspired the federal government to get involved and force rail companies to move more grain.

Grain production was at record high levels in 2013 – so high, in fact, that many farmers had no better options but to store rather than sell excesses over winter.

Grain glut hard on farmers

The 2013 grain glut really affected farmers like Curtis McRae.

“It gets stressful because grain is a perishable item,” said McRae. “The longer you sit on it the greater chance you'll have spoilage.”

hi-852-wheat-closeup
Although CN and CP Rail have upped the pace they ship grain across the country, farmers are still unsure whether they will encounter problems similar to those presented by the 2013 grain glut.

Nearly 76 tonnes were harvested last year – more than could be moved on the market – leaving no other choice for McRae but to shutter mass amounts of grain in bins on his property.

Some grain elevators were so full around the province that grain was stored in giant piles outside.

Now, on top of sitting on tonnes of grain, McRae is also holding out for prices to rise in hopes of getting more for his product.

CP, CN upping grain shipments

The federal government eventually stepped in and established rules on how much grain Canada's two main rail companies had to ship, hoping to ease some of the pressure from grain farmers.

Grain backlog points to need to modernize supply chain
Both CN and CP Rail said they are shipping more grain and boosting profits this summer.

There are fewer ships waiting for grain in the Vancouver port and near record levels being shipped out of Thunder Bay.

The railways said the grain would have moved anyway as the weather warmed up and shipping became easier.

But that's not how the grain companies see it.

“I don't think it would be in the magnitude it is,” said Keith Bruch with Paterson Global Foods “They were forced to put additional resources to grain, which I don't think would have happened without the mandate.”

Despite the increase in shipping, some think other farmers may not yet be out of the woods, with a lot of grain still waiting to be shipped.

“I think the pace has really picked up in terms of actually solving the glut problem,” said Derek Brewin from the University of Manitoba’s faculty of agriculture.

Brewin maintained, however, that the problem isn’t yet solved – that will depend on the size of this year’s crop.

Some experts have predicted bigger yields will soon become the norm.

McRae is just hoping when it comes time to move the grain this year, he'll have an easier time than last year.



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Friday Jul 25, 2014 - Valid concerns about trucks
Grimsby Lincoln News
Re. Trucks among safest vehicles, Letter, July 17

Trucks are very safe vehicles indeed when operated in a safe manner and in a proper location.

The initial letter sent in seemed to address the lack of respect for speed limits and school zones along West Street in Smithville, particularly by trucks but also by cars. It suggests that driving straight through a town’s downtown region is not ideal.

It does not question that trucks aren’t safe vehicles or that they are not properly inspected. It doesn’t call in to question the importance of truck transportation to our economy.

At one point in time, Highway 8 in Grimsby and Beamsville was a major east-west through way. As those towns grew, truck traffic was diverted. Only essential trucks making deliveries in those towns or garbage trucks, as the writer sarcastically pointed out, drive on the main town roads there.

As townships develop and grow, transportation sometimes needs to be re-routed. There are plenty of options for trucks to quickly go around the town of Smithville and avoid travelling through school zones and by children. This would still allow for our economy to run and function.

To send in a response letter that attacks an individual on choosing to move to West Street is pathetic, especially without direct experience with the traffic issue in the area.

I also live on West Street and think that the town needs to address the traffic issue in general. As more subdivisions are built in Smithville and the town develops, it is becoming even more important to find alternative routes for the trucks.

George Albert,


Smithville



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