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Newsal, on-highway diesel prices ring up at $3.258

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On-highway diesel prices crept up today in all but two of the Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) 10 reporting sectors, with the national average ringing up at $3.258 a gallon.

That’s up 6 tenths of a cent from last week, when the national average was $3.252.

Although diesel in all 10 sectors is under $4 a gallon, there aren’t any sectors showing diesel below the $3-a-gallon mark.

In the Gulf Coast area, diesel was selling for $3.039 a gallon, the cheapest in the country, while California diesel is still flirting with the $4 a gallon mark, ringing up just below it at $3.969 a gallon.

New England saw prices decrease 1.5 cents a gallon — to $3.255 compared with $3.270 last week — while the West Coast Less California saw prices edge down 4 tenths of a cent to $3.465 from $3.469 the week before.

Major fluctuations in the price of oil are controlled by two things: supply and demand and market sentiment.

As demand increases (or supply decreases) the price of oil and oil distillates such as diesel normally go up. As demand decreases (or the supply increases) the price goes down. At least that’s the way it usually works.

However, the price of oil as we know it is currently set in the oil futures market. An oil futures contract is a binding agreement that gives a person or company the right to purchase oil by the barrel at a predefined price on a predefined date in the future.

Under a futures contract, both the buyer and the seller are obligated to fulfill their side of the transaction on the specified date.

Conflict in major oil-producing areas (spurring concern of less oil to go around globally, thus upping the price), a decision by major oil producers to ramp up production (creating a glut of oil and distillate price cuts) or a cut in production (causing prices to go up), colder-than-normal winters in the U.S. (using more of the distillate, home heating oil, making prices rise), and other factors also influence the price of oil and oil-distillates.

Today, U.S. crude fell 0.3 percent to $67.54 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, gained 0.7 percent to $77.37 a barrel in London, The Associated Press reported.

For more information on diesel prices by region click here.

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DOL opinion letter: Time in sleeper berth does not count as compensable time

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The Department of Labor says the time a truck driver spends in the sleeper berth is not compensable time. Pictured in the Peterbilt 579 UltraLoft sleeper berth. (Courtesy: PETERBILT MOTORS)

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Labor said Monday said it had determined that time spent in the sleeper berth by professional truck drivers while otherwise relieved from duty does not count as compensable time.

The DOL issued the determination in a written opinion letter by the department’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) on how a particular law applies in specific circumstances presented by the individual person or entity that requested the letter.

The American Trucking Associations lauded the opinion.

“ATA welcomes Monday’s opinion letter from DOL Wage and Hour Division Administrator Cheryl Stanton that concluded time spent by a commercial driver in the sleeper berth does not count as compensable hours under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, unless the driver is actually performing work or on call,” said ATA President and CEO Chris Spear. “This opinion, which is consistent with decades-old DOL regulations, the weight of judicial authority, and the long understanding of the trucking industry, clears up confusion created by two recent court decisions that called the compensability of sleeper berth time into question.

Significantly, this opinion letter provides new guidance, the DOL said.

Under prior guidance, the DOL said WHD interpreted the relevant regulations to mean that while sleeping time may be excluded from hours worked where “adequate facilities” were furnished, only up to eight hours of sleeping time may be excluded in a trip 24 hours or longer, and no sleeping time may be excluded for trips under 24 hours.

“WHD has now concluded that this interpretation is unnecessarily burdensome for employers and instead adopts a straightforward reading of the plain language of the applicable regulation, under which the time drivers are relieved of all duties and permitted to sleep in a sleeper berth is presumptively non-working time that is not compensable,” the opinion letter said. “There may be circumstances, however, where a driver who retires to a sleeping berth is unable to use the time effectively for his or her own purposes. For example, a driver who is required to remain on call or do paperwork in the sleeping berth may be unable to effectively sleep or engage in personal activities; in such cases, the time is compensable hours worked.”

The ATA commended Acting Secretary Patrick Pizzella and Stanton for adopting a straightforward, plain-language reading of the law, rather than the burdensome alternative interpretation embraced by those outlier decisions.

“ATA also commends the department for making guidance like this available through opinion letters, which provide an opportunity for stakeholders to better understand their compliance obligations prospectively, rather than settling such matters only after the fact, through costly and wasteful litigation.”

 

 

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Mexican officials uncover smuggling ring using truck disguised as freight companies

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Some trucks used in the smuggling ring had air conditioning units, but didn't use them when carrying migrants. (FOTOSEARCH)

MEXICO CITY — Mexican officials said Monday they have uncovered an industrial-scale migrant smuggling ring using tractor-trailer rigs disguised as freight deliveries for major companies.

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said authorities found a tractor-trailer disguised with the logo of a major grocery store chain. But instead of groceries, it was carrying about 150 migrants.

‘The (grocery) company has filed a complaint, because it was fake, it was camouflage to transport migrants,” Lopez Obrador said.

In June, Mexico detected five freight trucks carrying 925 migrants, almost all from Central America. Some of those trucks bore the logos of well-known firms, though it was not clear if those trucks were also fakes or had been used illegally by drivers without the companies’ knowledge.

Foreign Relations Secretary Marcelo Ebrard said that four or five of the freight trucks found in June belonged to the same independent trucking company, based in central Mexico.

Ebrard said the company operated trucks equipped with air conditioning units, but didn’t turn on the ventilation when carrying migrants.

That led officials to believe it was just a matter of time before migrants would die aboard the overcrowded vehicles.

“The biggest concern is that there is going to be a tragedy, that is what we don’t want,” said Lopez Obrador.

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3 Estes Express employees steal $23,000 worth of water heaters

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COLUMBIA, S.C. — Richland County Sheriff’s Department says they have arrested three employees of a delivery company, after discovering $23,000 worth of stolen inventory in one of their homes.

Officials became suspicious when some retail stores reported that not all of the products supposedly being shipped from Home Depot’s West Columbia distribution center were reaching their final destination.

An investigation by the Sheriff’s Department and officials from Home Depot and Estes Express Line led authorities to get a search warrant for the home of Cody Bessinger. That is when they found more than $23,000 worth of stolen water heaters that Bessinger and two other thieves reportedly accumulated over one years time.

Authorities arrested Bessinger, along with Joe Gunter and Chris Shumpert, who were both managerial employees for Estes Express Line.

This begs the question…”why water heaters”?

Could it be that besides working for Estes Express Line, these guys had a clandestine plumbing operation on the side?

You might even say these three men are in hot water.

 

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