Fighting Removal of Freight Classification Antitrust Immunity

The National Motor Freight Traffic Association (NMFTA) and National Classification Committee (NCC) have joined in appealing the STB's removal of antitrust immunity from the NCC in its work in creating the National Motor Freight Classification (NMFC). The filing in front of the US Court of Appeals had been anticipated.

As the NCC explains, the NMFC is aimed at comparing the transportability of goods moving in intrastate, interstate and foreign commerce. Commodities are assigned one of 18 classes, ranging from 50 to 500, based on four characteristics, including density, stowability, handling and liability. Costs for shipping freight are determined by combining the NMFC classifications with carrier rates.

The STB had ruled in its Ex Parte No. 656 (Sub-No. 1) that antitrust immunity for ratemaking that has existed for years was eliminated. Also falling under the ruling are the 10 national rate bureaus that use the NMFC classifications for developing freight rates. Unless otherwise changed, immunity is slated to end in September.

“We believe this decision is flawed and clearly contrary to the intent of Congress and it has a very good chance of being overturned,” says Bill Pugh, secretary of the NCC and executive director of the NMFTA. The NMFTA did note, however that if antitrust immunity is terminated, the NCC will make necessary operational procedural changes and continue to operate without immunity.

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