"We're going to do all we can to strip steamship lines of their antitrust immunity," a union official told the Journal of Commerce.
The hearing was scheduled by Rep. Henry Hyde (R-IL) in response to efforts by cargo intermediaries seeking to end the ship lines' freedom to jointly discuss and set rates with immunity from antitrust laws.
While the debate so far has involved mainly shipping lines, shippers and others involved in ocean transportation, the Teamsters come representing truckers. The union, which is trying to organize independent container haulers at ports, complains that shipping lines use their antitrust immunity to drive down harbor trucking rates. Independent drivers in that business average only about $7 an hour, it says.
Supporters of continued antitrust immunity view the Teamsters' involvement as a surprising and unwelcome intrusion, the Journal reports. They note that shipping lines' antitrust immunity does not extend to negotiations with trucking companies for intermodal rates.