The American Trucking Associations’ Intermodal Motor Carriers Conference (IMCC), filed a complaint with the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) against Ocean Carrier Equipment Management Association Inc. (OCEMA) and Consolidated Chassis Management LLC (CCM), which oversee and manage the chassis pools.

IMCC alleged that—based upon first-hand industry knowledge and expertise—OCEMA, its members, and participating nonmembers have adopted and imposed unjust and unreasonable regulations and practices by requiring the use of OCEMA member default chassis providers and denying motor carriers their right to select the chassis provider for merchant haulage movements.

The Ruling

Intermodal truck drivers and their companies operating in four U.S. geographical regions may soon have more choices among providers of the chassis they use to haul ocean containers. Erin Wirth, FMC Chief Administrative Law Judge, issued an initial decision, which states that exclusive agreements between ocean carriers and chassis providers violate the U.S. Shipping Act of 1984 when a motor carrier is not able to use the chassis provider of its own choosing.

Ports Impacted

  • Chicago
  • Los Angeles/Long Beach, California
  • Memphis, Tennessee
  • Savannah, Georgia

“This victory has been a long time coming,” said IMCC Executive Director Jonathan Eisen. “The decision is the first step in putting a stop to the practice of foreign-owned shipping lines forcing American drivers and motor carriers to use specific equipment providers to move goods — which will help reduce supply chain delays and cut costs for carriers and consumers.”

Since this ruling came out, we have already seen a major announcement from Union Pacific Railroad in Chicago. They are converting their Joliet, IL facility from a wheeled operation to a grounded operation like that of most marine terminals at coastal ports. As such, grounded operations allow inland terminals to provide much needed flexibility to accept trucker-owned chassis, in addition to pooled chassis they keep on site. This ruling from the FMC may be the catalyst for a sea change at inland terminals.

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Rich Roche