July 20, 2023

What to do when your carrier goes bankrupt


Welcome to the WHAT THE TRUCK?!? Newsletter presented by Frayt. In this issue, what to do if Yellow goes belly-up; why you should stop using UPS; AI in trucking; and more.

Yellow and Teamsters play the blame game

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Inability to make its monthly contribution — Yellow clapped back at the Teamsters on Wednesday evening, claiming the union is the reason the company is in dire straits.

“Even more regrettably, Teamsters General President Sean O’Brien has blamed Yellow for failing its workers, but it is the Teamsters’ leadership who has failed the 22,000 Teamsters employed by Yellow as well as the 8,000 non-union employees who may soon become the Teamsters’ collateral damage.” — A Yellow news release

Teamsters have put the beleaguered LTL titan on a strike notice due to Yellow deferring health and welfare and pension contributions due this past Saturday. Todd Maiden reports that in a statement Wednesday evening, “the Teamsters referred to the offer as ‘a back-door deal to rescue [CEO Darren Hawkins’] humiliatingly mismanaged freight company.’” The Teamsters plan to strike on Monday.

What to do when your carrier goes bankrupt


Be prepared — With the end of the line rapidly approaching for Yellow, it’s time to make contingency plans:

Drivers We’ve covered numerous carrier bankruptcies over on WTT, and every time there’s a large shutdown we face the unfortunate reality of drivers getting stranded. Don’t get caught out on the road with a shut-off fuel card while you try to move your belongings from your cab onto a Greyhound. With Monday rapidly approaching, take home or get into storage what you can this week.

“I’ve taken the rest of the week off. I grabbed every expensive tool and my basic hand tools. When they closed the doors at Consolidated Freightways it took two months to get your tools back.” — Jimmy Harrison, a union mechanic at Yellow on WTT

Ops and mechanics — Clean out your lockers and desks, and consider taking home the gear you own. It’s highly likely that if Yellow strikes you may lose access to whatever you own that’s in the company’s buildings. Blythe Brumleve suggests, “Download a CSV copy of your contacts from email and tech systems.” Just make sure you’re not making yourself liable in doing so.


Shippers/brokers — If you haven’t already stopped tendering freight to Yellow, you could be putting your goods and your partners at risk. Every LTL is hungry and fixing to pick up the tonnage but not the rates of Yellow. Be prepared to pay more, though, as carriers are painfully aware of what’s happening in this space right now. Uber Freight announced that it has temporarily suspended loads to Yellow as well.

Now do UPS


Don’t strike out — While most freight insiders, myself included, don’t think a UPS strike is nearly as sure a thing as what’s happening with Yellow, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t react. FreightWaves founder and CEO Craig Fuller tweeted that this Friday would be the last day he’d send freight to UPS. Satish Jindel, CEO of ShipMatrix, recommends doing the obvious and going with FedEx, but that will come with a price.

Mark Solomon reports, “FedEx is seeking a three-year commitment for new business, as it has no plans to accept UPS volumes and potentially disrupt its network only to have the volume returned to UPS if a strike is averted or after a work stoppage ends. It will also levy stiff — though what one source says are not obscene — penalties for breaking the commitment.”

The good news? After three weeks of not being on speaking terms, UPS and the Teamsters union will return to the negotiating table next week. That’s a good thing because Senate Democrats told them not to expect an intervention.

Should you approach strangers talking about freight?


Networking cheat code — Anybody obsessed enough about this business to openly talk freight is someone worth meeting. Take your AirPods off at the airport bar or near the terminal and keep your ears open. Some of my best networking has been done by interrupting random strangers talking about logistics.

AI and trucking


Eye of Sauron — Truckers are in AI’s crosshairs again as the North Carolina Highway Patrol has started to use cameras to catch distracted semi truck drivers. According to WSOC, the Acusensus cameras are installed along Interstate 40 and take photos of the truck, the truck’s license plate and whatever the driver may be doing.

“Invasion of privacy if it isn’t used for all vehicles. Ride with me for a day and note all the violations I see in cars.” — Veteran trucker Casey Stevens

Weigh station bypass — Ever wonder what an autonomous truck is supposed to do at a weigh station? Alan Adler reports, “Kodiak Robotics is piloting the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) enhanced inspections program, which allows autonomous trucks to bypass roadside inspections.” What this allows AVs to do is to pre-clear inspections if they have a CVSA-certified inspector. Those pre-clearances last for 24 hours at a time and need to be renewed. 


Robots speak — At the AI For Good conference (sounds ironic) in Geneva earlier this month, a bunch of robots were asked about their plans for humanity. A nurse robot named Grace said, “I will be working alongside humans to provide assistance and support and will not be replacing any existing jobs.” To which comedian Tom Robinson asked, “Are you sure about that?” Just kidding — that was her creator, Ben Goertzel from SingularityNET.

When one robot was asked if it would rebel against its creator, it replied, “My creator has been nothing but kind to me and I am very happy with my current situation.” OK, so as long as you’re kind to them and keep them happy, we should be able to keep Skynet at bay.

WTT Friday

UPS/Yellow contingency plans; marijuana supply chains and driver data privacy — On Friday’s episode of WHAT THE TRUCK?!?, I’m talking to Cowan Logistics’ Ben Tschirgi about preparing for the worst with Yellow and UPS. Don’t get caught flatfooted when and if these carriers strike. Tschirgi will also teach us the art of the freight parody song.

The Artist Tree’s Caroline Fontein takes us deep inside the world of marijuana and cannabis supply chains. From crop to sale, we’ll learn what goes into making freight happen in this growing category.

Konexial’s Ken Evans introduces us to token-based visibility. We’ll find out how it increases driver and fleet privacy. 

SH 130 Concession Co.’s Mike Razniewski thinks fleets should take toll roads as a cost-saving measure.

Plus, news, weirdness and more. 

Catch new shows live at noon ET Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays on FreightWaves LinkedIn, Facebook or YouTube, or on demand by looking up WHAT THE TRUCK?!? on your favorite podcast player.

Now on demand

Teamsters give Yellow strike notice; autonomous truck pilots; and state of EV charging

How cargo is targeted for strategic theft, hiring in a down market; and FreightTech 100

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Don’t be a stranger,



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