After nearly a month-long wildcat strike, owner-operators of dump trucks in South Florida are back on the job.
The approximately 1,100 independent truckers walked out to protest skyrocketing diesel fuel prices, low rates and the high cost of insurance.
Several trucking companies that broker work for the truckers filed suit against the owner-operators and their fledgling Support Dump Truckers Group. The suit alleged that the truckers' demand for across-the-board rate increases of up to 35% violated federal antitrust laws against price fixing. The truckers did win some rate increases from many of the trucking companies/brokers.
Another issue in the strike was the high cost of insurance, which trucking companies force the owner-operators to buy through them. According to the Journal of Commerce,
a proposal to create a cargo liability pool for owner-operators could be a solution.
Insurance companies shy away from providing owner-operators with cargo liability insurance, especially in Miami. Those who do offer the coverage generally require minimum premiums ranging from $5,000 to $10,000, payable in advance.
Greg Fritz, regional vice president in Miami for Roanoke Trade Services, managing general agent for several insurance companies, has proposed that the independents pool their buying power. The insurance pool would be posted on a web site and made available to trucking companies and steamship lines to check to see if the owner-operator has insurance. The biggest challenge to forming the pool, Kritz says, is getting an insurance company or companies to underwrite it. Most insurance companies want to deal with large-volume customers, not onesy-twosy owner-operators.