The Federal Maritime Commission will allow Consolidated Chassis Management to directly manage its intermodal chassis pools but said it will monitor CCM to ensure the company doesn’t violate antitrust laws or disrupt commerce.
The Justice Department and several industry groups had raised concerns about the changes to the agreement that allows CCM’s ocean carrier members to cooperate on chassis pools.
CCM is a subsidiary of the 20-member Ocean Carrier Equipment Management Association. It operates six regional chassis pools that manage about 125,000 chassis for member lines.
FMC Chairman Richard A. Lidinsky said he supported the amendment after CCM agreed to modifications and provided assurances it was not seeking to lease chassis to non-pool members. Lidinsky said that it CCM were to move to a direct-leasing model, he “would have serious concerns” that the company was exceeding the limited antitrust immunity that ocean carriers enjoy under the 1984 Shipping Act.
He said his vote to allow the amendment to take effect was “based on the clarification that the amendment does not seek to extend the Shipping Act’s exemption from other antitrust laws, in any form whatsoever, to entities, such as equipment leasing companies, that are not ocean carriers.”
The Institute of International Container Lessors had complained that the amendment CCM originally requested would have allowed carriers to compete with lessors such as IICL members Trac Intermodal and Flexi-van.
The National Industrial Transportation League and Justice Department also wrote to the FMC, expressing concern that the amendment’s original wording would extend the Shipping Act’s antitrust immunity to land-based transportation. The International Longshoremen’s Association said it was concerned that the proposed change would affect ILA maintenance and repair jobs.
Lidinsky said he supports the concept of chassis pools but said the amended agreement “should receive close scrutiny” to ensure that it doesn’t improperly expand the Shipping Act’s antitrust immunity, reduce competition or transportation services, raise transportation costs or encourage labor disruptions.