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ACWI Advance – April 1, 2022

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In this issue of ACWI Advance we take a closer look at these stories:

  • Despite inflation and political turmoil, consumer spending should stay strong.
  • Unions lose members even while the Biden administration promotes organizing.
  • Shippers have grown concerned about slowness of ILWU port contract talks.
  • Citing safety, two trucking groups advocate for additional parking for drivers.
  • Poll finds securing backloads is the top priority for small and medium-sized truckers.
  • It looks like the STB may finally compel railroads to offer reciprocal switching.

Send your company news to Editor David Sparkman at, and please understand that there is no cost to you when we use your news in this newsletter.

Retail Forecast Retains Strength

In spite of rampant inflation, political turmoil and a war in Europe, retail industry experts are predicting continued strength in consumer spending. However, that could change if inflation continues to soar at a historic rate.

On March 15, the National Retail Federation reported its annual retail forecast for this year, which anticipates that retail sales will increase between 6% and 8% to more than $4.86 trillion in 2022.

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Unions Struggle To Keep Up

Earlier this year, the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics released its latest statistics for union membership and the news was not good for America’s labor unions.

In 2021, the number of wage and salary workers belonging to unions continued to decline (-241,000) to 14 million, and the percent of the workforce who were union members was just 10.3%.

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ILWU Talks Worry Shippers

Major shipper and industry associations wrote to President Biden last month urging him to intervene in the slow pace of contract talks between West Coast port terminal operators and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union.

Biden late last year was successful in getting the union to agree to extended port hours.

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Truckers Seek Added Parking

Two major trucking groups that seldom see eye to eye on many policy issues joined together to urge the federal government action to address the need to expand parking availability for truckers.

American Trucking Associations and the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association issued the call for action in a letter they sent to Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg.

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Carriers Want More Backloads

A survey finds that securing backloads is the top priority for small and medium-sized truckers. Convoy, an online freight network, conducted the research which also concludes that 35% of all truck miles may be empty miles.

The survey also found that the regional distance (defined as between 100 and 400 miles) represents the biggest share of loads for both the owner-operator and the dispatcher and driver groups. It is also this distance that drivers drive empty the most.

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Reciprocal Switching Is on the Way

The freight rail industry pulled out all the stops attacking reciprocal switching during two days of hearings held in mid-March by the Surface Transportation Board, but the STB members didn’t seem to be all that impressed by the performance.

Since the introduction of Precision Scheduled Railroading in the United States five years ago, most of the Class I railroads have adopted this operations model, which quickly resulted in widespread service deterioration that persists to this day, accompanied by the imposition of exploitative high-cost demurrage and accessorial fees.

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