PREAMBLE — PURPOSE AND SCOPE These procedures (“Procedures”) pertain to the investigation, initiation, consideration and handling of matters related to maintenance of the National Motor Freight Classification (NMFC). The NMFC is a voluntary standard for the classification of commodities moving in commerce, including associated rules and packaging definitions, specifications and requirements. It contains no rates or charges for transportation services nor does it suggest rates or charges. These Procedures describe the organization and responsibilities of the Commodity Classification Standards Board (CCSB). PART I — COMMODITY CLASSIFICATION STANDARDS BOARD — ORGANIZATION AND RESPONSIBILITIES Section 1. Organization a) The CCSB is an autonomous board of not less than three (3) and not more than eight (8) members, composed of full-time employees of the National Motor Freight Traffic Association, Inc. (NMFTA), and such other persons as may be deemed necessary to conduct the affairs of the CCSB. One member of the CCSB shall be the Chairman, and another shall be the Vice Chairman. b) The Chairman of the CCSB shall be appointed by the Executive Director of NMFTA. c) The Vice Chairman of the CCSB shall be appointed by the Executive Director of NMFTA in consultation with the Chairman of the CCSB. d) The other members of the CCSB shall be appointed by the Executive Director of NMFTA in consultation with the Chairman and Vice Chairman of the CCSB. e) In the absence, or at the direction, of the Chairman of the CCSB, the Vice Chairman of the CCSB will assume the responsibilities of the Chairman. Section 2. Responsibilities The CCSB shall be responsible for: a) investigating, initiating, considering and acting on matters affecting the provisions of the NMFC, including: proposals for amending the classification of commodities; commodity descriptions; classes; rules; packaging definitions, specifications and requirements; and any other classification-related provisions contained in the NMFC; b) directing and monitoring NMFTA staff in its performance of analytical and support services relating to the NMFC; c) reviewing and revising these Procedures as necessary; d) reviewing and revising the CCSB’s Policies and Guidelines as necessary; and e) directing the publication of the NMFC as well as supplements to the NMFC.
2 PART II — RULES OF PROCEDURE FOR AMENDING THE PROVISIONS OF THE NATIONAL MOTOR FREIGHT CLASSIFICATION Rule 1. Proposal Forms The CCSB shall provide without charge a suitable form(s) for the submission of proposals for amending the provisions of the NMFC. Rule 2. Proposals a) Proposals for amending the NMFC may be filed by any person, firm, corporation or group having an interest in the classification-related contents of the NMFC, including the CCSB itself. b) Proposals for amending the NMFC shall be submitted in writing to the Chairman of the CCSB. c) Upon request and without charge, the CCSB shall assist anyone wishing to file a proposal in preparing such proposal. d) Each proposal shall be docketed, and the Chairman of the CCSB shall place proposals on the first available docket for public hearing. Rule 3. Docket Bulletins and Individual Notice a) Not less than thirty (30) days prior to a public meeting of the CCSB, the CCSB shall: 1. issue a Docket Bulletin describing the proposals that will be considered at that meeting; and 2. post the Docket Bulletin on the NMFTA’s website, www.nmfta.org. b) The Docket Bulletin shall: 1. specify the time, date and place of the meeting and corresponding deadlines for participating in the classification process; 2. contain the full text of each proposal along with the relevant CCSB report (analysis), including the identity of the proponent, the identity of the CCSB contact(s) assigned to the proposal and how to reach the CCSB contact(s); and 3. specify how to obtain the data and other information in the CCSB’s public docket file.
3 c) The CCSB shall contemporaneously mail or email individual notice to: 1. proponents of the proposals that will be considered at the meeting (other than the CCSB itself); 2. shippers as reasonably can be identified by the CCSB as having a direct interest in a proposal on the docket; and 3. trade associations that have been identified as representing shippers having such interest. d) Individual notice shall: 1. specify the time, date and place of the meeting; 2. provide NMFTA’s website address for online access to the Docket Bulletin; 3. provide instructions for obtaining access to the CCSB’s public docket file; and 4. specify the corresponding deadlines for participating in the classification process. Rule 4. Interested Persons and Parties of Record a) Interested Persons: Any person having an interest in a docketed proposal can communicate that interest in writing by mail, email or facsimile to the Chairman of the CCSB prior to the public meeting at which the proposal will be considered, or by attending the public meeting at which the proposal will be considered. Interested persons will be notified by mail, email or facsimile of the action taken on the docketed proposal by the CCSB at the public meeting. b) Parties of Record: A person may become a party of record to a docketed proposal by, at least seven (7) business days prior to the public meeting at which the proposal will be considered: 1. communicating its intention to so participate in writing by mail, email or facsimile to the Chairman of the CCSB; and 2. submitting pertinent information and/or data related to the transportation characteristics (density, handling, stowability and liability) of the involved articles, or relevant to packaging materials or methods in connection with proposed packaging amendments. The proponent(s) of a proposal will be included as a party of record to that proposal. Only parties of record will have the right to seek reconsideration.
4 Rule 5. Public Docket Files a) The public docket files consist of reports, analyses, studies, supporting data and other information received by the CCSB not later than seven (7) business days prior to the public meeting at which the respective proposals will be considered. The public docket files will not name the entity that provided the data. b) The CCSB will post the public docket files for all current proposals on NMFTA’s website, organized by docket and subject numbers. c) Any person who does not have Internet access may obtain the CCSB’s public docket file on a current proposal by submitting a request in writing by mail or facsimile to the CCSB. A reasonable charge will be assessed for copying and transmitting the document(s) requested. Rule 6. Public Meetings and Conduct of Business a) Meetings open to the public shall be conducted by the CCSB on all docketed proposals. Such meetings shall be held at least three (3) times per year. b) The CCSB may also hold special meetings to consider and vote on docketed proposals, as deemed necessary and appropriate by the Chairman of the CCSB. Such special meetings shall be open to the public and shall be subject to the same notification and procedural requirements herein. c) At all public meetings the presence of not less than 60% of the membership of the CCSB shall be necessary to transact business. Meetings shall be governed by Robert’s Rules of Order. d) Any person may participate at public meetings by presenting views orally and/or in writing on any proposal under consideration; however, only written statements and written presentations received by the time the record closes will be incorporated into the public docket file. The Chairman of the CCSB shall schedule a reasonable amount of time for an appearance before the CCSB. e) Note-taking and/or sound recordings are permitted at these public meetings provided that the meeting is not disrupted by such activities. Rule 7. Disposition of Proposals a) In considering a docketed proposal, the CCSB will be guided by: 1. the public docket file; 2. the regulatory and legal standards and precedent relevant to the reasonableness of classification provisions; 3. relevant classification precedent, where applicable; 4. principles of procedural fairness as set forth herein and the arguments of the parties based on the public file; and
5 5. the CCSB’s Policies and Directives of record contained in the public file. When evaluating commodities in connection with the assignment of classes, the CCSB must consider the four transportation characteristics of density, handling, stowability and liability. i.
Density – It has been well established that, absent any unusual or significant handling, stowability or liability characteristics, density is of prime importance in the assignment of classes. The CCSB has developed density guidelines that are used in the assignment of classes. Commodities or commodity groups exhibiting a wide density range not accurately reflected by a single overall average density may be assigned density-based classes.
Handling – In evaluating the classification of a particular commodity or commodity group, the CCSB must consider ease or difficulty of handling and the impact of such on the transportability of the involved commodities. Unusual or significant handling characteristics may be a contributing factor in the assignment of classes.
6 c) In modifying a docketed proposal, the CCSB may not broaden the scope of the proposal as shown in the Docket Bulletin. Any action that would go beyond the scope of the docketed proposal would require the docketing of a new proposal. d) A majority vote of the CCSB members present at the meeting shall govern its action. e) The proponent(s) of a proposal may withdraw it at any time prior to the proposal’s approval or disapproval by the CCSB. Rule 8. Reconsideration a) The CCSB may, in its discretion and for good cause shown, reconsider any docketed proposal on which disposition has been made, provided that request for reconsideration is made in writing by mail, email or facsimile by a party of record to the proposal and such request is received by the Chairman of the CCSB no later than 5:00 pm Eastern Time on the twentieth (20th) day following the CCSB’s initial disposition. b) The CCSB shall decide whether or not to grant reconsideration within five (5) days of receiving the request. c) The CCSB may vote on its own motion to reconsider a docketed proposal on which disposition has been made. d) Once reconsideration is initiated by the CCSB, the initial disposition is stayed, and the proposal under reconsideration is governed by the same procedural rules as those applicable to the CCSB’s initial consideration. Rule 9. Notice and Publication a) Notice of CCSB dispositions of docketed proposals shall be provided by mail or email to the respective proponent(s), other parties of record, and interested persons. Notice of CCSB dispositions will also be posted on the NMFTA’s website in the public docket file. b) Amendments to the NMFC resulting from actions taken by the CCSB under these Procedures shall be published in a supplement to be issued not less than thirty (30) days after disposition by the CCSB. c) Changes to the NMFC will become effective not less than seven (7) business days after the issue date of the supplement. Rule 10. Changes Without Docketing Changes in the NMFC made necessary by law, by order of a regulatory body, or for clarification, simplification or uniformity may be made without docketing or observance of the Procedures herein. Advance notice of such changes shall be provided in the Docket Bulletin and posted on NMFTA’s website. Rule 11. Independent Action The CCSB does not interfere with a carrier’s free and unrestrained right of independent action.
7 PART III – AMENDMENTS TO PROCEDURES Section 1. CCSB Action These Procedures may be amended or revised by a two-thirds majority vote of the CCSB. The amended or revised Procedures will be posted on the NMFTA’s website. Section 2. Force and Effect An amendment adopted and approved as herein shall become a part of these Procedures with like force and effect as if it had been originally incorporated herein and will apply to all subsequent Docket Bulletins.
COMMODITY CLASSIFICATION STANDARDS BOARD POLICIES AND DIRECTIVES PERTAINING TO THE NATIONAL MOTOR FREIGHT CLASSIFICATION I.
Commodity Classification Standards Board Policies Following are the policies of the Commodity Classification Standards Board (CCSB) for maintaining the commodity descriptions; classes; rules; packaging definitions, specifications and requirements; and other classification-related provisions contained in the National Motor Freight Classification (NMFC). A. Transportation Characteristics – When evaluating commodities in connection with the assignment of classes, the CCSB must consider the four transportation characteristics of density, handling, stowability and liability. 1.
Density – Absent any unusual or significant handling, stowability or liability characteristics, density is of prime importance in the assignment of classes. The CCSB has developed density guidelines that are based on the precedent of pertinent administrative as well as classification decisions. The present guidelines are attached hereto. The density guidelines are used in the assignment of classes where the average density of a particular commodity or group of commodities is representative or reflective of the range of densities exhibited by that commodity or commodity group. Furthermore, the density/class relationships set forth in the guidelines presume that there are no unusual or significant handling, stowability or liability characteristics, which would call for giving those characteristics additional or different “weight” in determining the appropriate class. Commodities or commodity groups exhibiting a wide density range not accurately reflected by a single overall average density may be assigned density-based classes; especially where there are no unusual or significant handling, stowability or liability characteristics and where there is no other feasible means of effectively narrowing the range. And where densities are distributed throughout the range, commodities or commodity groups may be assigned classes predicated on a full density scale. In this regard, full-scale density classifications should generally provide the following standard progression: Less than 1 ................................... 400 1 but less than 2.......................... 300 2 but less than 4.......................... 250 4 but less than 6.......................... 175 6 but less than 8.......................... 125 8 but less than 10........................ 100 10 but less than 12........................ 92.5 12 but less than 15........................ 85 15 but less than 22.5..................... 70 22.5 but less than 30..................... 65 30 or greater ................................. 60
2 Density-based classifications should include a reference to Item (Rule) 170, the inadvertence clause, or instead to some other inadvertence provision. And fullscale density classifications as set forth herein should also include a reference to Item (Rule) 171, the “bumping” privilege. 2.
Handling – The majority of shipments tendered to general commodities carriers are comprised of packaged freight that is readily handled by dock personnel, often with the aid of mechanical handling equipment. Some articles, however, due to their size, weight, configuration, hazardous nature, fragility, etc., pose additional handling difficulties, whether or not mechanical equipment is used, and may necessitate special care or attention. In evaluating the classification of a particular commodity or commodity group, the CCSB must consider ease or difficulty of handling and the impact of such on the transportability of the involved commodities. Unusual or significant handling characteristics may be a contributing factor in the assignment of classes.
Stowability – As with handling, most freight tendered to general commodities carriers does not present substantial stowability problems. The packaged freight that comprises the majority of shipments stows well in carriers' equipment. Some articles, however, present additional stowability considerations, including, but not limited to: 1) loading restrictions necessary to comply with government regulations or carrier policies, such as coloading prohibitions in connection with the transportation of hazardous materials; 2) loading restrictions arising from practical considerations, such as excessive weight or excessive length; 3) difficulty in loading other freight adjacent to the commodity due to protrusions and the like; 4) the inability to tier the commodity in carriers' equipment; and 5) the inability to load other freight on top of the commodity due to the absence of regular load-bearing surfaces. In evaluating the classification of a particular commodity or commodity group, the CCSB must examine stowability and its impact on the transportability of the involved commodities. Unusual or significant stowability considerations may be a contributing factor in the assignment of classes.
3 Consequently, the attached value guidelines cannot be viewed as forming a matrix with the density guidelines, where one is measured against the other to arrive at the appropriate class. Rather, the value guidelines provide an indication of the upper value limits associated with the various classes, as determined using the density guidelines. As with handling and stowability, unusual or significant liability characteristics may be a contributing factor in the assignment of classes. The CCSB cannot consider the potential economic impact of a classification change. B.
Class Floor and Ceiling – The CCSB has established class 50 as the lowest class in the NMFC and class 500 as the highest. (For a complete listing of the classes assigned in the NMFC, see the attached density and value guidelines.)
C. Classification Updating – The provisions of the NMFC are to be kept up-to-date with respect to the commodities moving in commerce. Included in this policy is the: 1) establishment of classifications for new commodities; 2) amendment of existing classifications to reflect changes in transportation characteristics; 3) establishment of classifications for commodities classed by analogy, in keeping with the requirements of Item (Rule) 421 of the NMFC; and 4) establishment or amendment of classifications for commodities that are a source, or potential source, of interpretation disputes so as to eliminate or avoid those disputes. D. Clarification, Simplification and Uniformity – Generally speaking, the policies grouped under this heading pertain to “housekeeping” matters necessary to improve the usability of the NMFC and to ensure compliance with regulations. The following activities are to be conducted to implement these policies: 1) adding commonly used terminology to descriptions to identify commodities (including trade names, properly noticed, where a commodity is essentially known by a trade name); 2) replacing outdated terminology in commodity descriptions with current terminology; 3) combining descriptions embracing related commodities, including the combining of subclassifications having the same class; 4) eliminating excess or unclear wording, and employing language that is concise and clear as to intent; 5) structuring commodity descriptions so as to foster clarification and simplification; 6) listing commodity descriptions alphabetically by noun or compound noun, as the case may be; 7) replacing broad, indistinct nouns (e.g., assemblies, devices, units) with more specific, definitive nouns wherever appropriate and practicable; 8) listing items under appropriate generic headings; 9) providing uniformity in provisions addressing the same or similar circumstances published in conjunction with different items; and 10) removing obsolete provisions.
Classification Index – The index is typically the NMFC user's first step when determining the applicable provisions. Accordingly, the CCSB has developed policies to improve the index and, thus, the usability of the NMFC. As index listings are generally derived directly from the commodity descriptions, these policies are closely related to those established for “Clarification, Simplification and Uniformity.” The policies are as follows:
The index should list commodities by their commonly recognized names in addition to their technically correct names. Where a commodity is essentially known by a trade name, the index should include that trade name, properly noticed.
Where commodities may be looked up in more than one way, the index should be cross-referenced. This includes adding index listings that are keyed to adjectives as well as to nouns; particularly where the noun is broad and indistinct.
Index listings should be as specific and definitive as practicable.
Index listings that can be consolidated should be consolidated, and unnecessary listings should be removed.
Packaging – The CCSB is to establish and maintain packaging rules and specifications as necessary to ensure that freight is adequately protected and can be handled and stowed in a manner that is reasonably safe and practicable so as to withstand the normal rigors of the less-than-truckload environment. The CCSB is to evaluate prospective packagings against established performance criteria, as reflected by the packaging provisions published in the NMFC. Generally speaking, prospective packaging materials or methods are considered consistent with CCSB packaging policy when their performance is demonstrated to be as good as, or better than, currently authorized materials or methods.
G. Rules – The rules published in the NMFC are to be: 1) consistent with current law; 2) consistent with classification precedent and current motor carrier practice; 3) clear as to intent; and 4) otherwise up-to-date. II. Commodity Classification Standards Board Directives The CCSB has the responsibility to: 1) obtain information pertaining to commodities moving in commerce, including their transportation characteristics, as well as packaging and other classification-related matters; 2) evaluate that information to determine appropriate action(s), if any; and 3) provide assistance to users of the NMFC in connection with classification-related matters. A. Research – When conducting additional research related to a docketed proposal, the CCSB will make a reasonable effort to provide written notice of the proposal to, and solicit information from, potential shippers of the involved articles and trade associations that may have member companies with a potential interest in the docketed proposal. Since the individual classifications in the NMFC are intended to reflect the transportation characteristics of commodities moving in commerce, the CCSB shall keep apprised of new commodities and technologies as well as changes in existing commodities.
5 With respect to packaging, the CCSB shall: 1) receive information pertinent to the efficacy of currently authorized packaging materials or methods; 2) keep apprised of new packaging materials and methods; and 3) develop, in cooperation with shippers, packaging manufacturers and packaging professionals, improved packaging. B.
Analysis of Classification Proposals – The CCSB shall prepare written reports (analyses) of all proposals for amending the NMFC docketed in accordance with the National Motor Freight Classification Procedures. The analyses shall relate the information of record to the CCSB's policies, and analyses of proposals involving the assignment of classes are to include a discussion of all four transportation characteristics. Density data shall be analyzed under the CCSB's density guidelines, and handling, stowability and liability must be analyzed with respect to their impact on the transportability of the involved commodities and related to applicable classification precedent.
C. Providing Assistance to Interested Persons – In addition to providing assistance as set forth in the National Motor Freight Classification Procedures, the CCSB shall answer questions from interested persons concerning classification principles and procedures, and be responsive to requests for information pertaining to the background of a docketed proposal or the facts of record, as set forth in the public docket file. However, the CCSB will continue to honor its commitment to protect the confidentiality of commercially sensitive information that it receives from shippers and others on the assurance — expressed or implied — that disclosure will be limited. Therefore, the CCSB will not release confidential information such as market data or data on specific, identified products of a particular shipper, nor the names of data sources or information that could lead to the names of data sources, the dissemination of which might be detrimental to a company or individual that has chosen to participate in the classification process. Similarly, the CCSB will not release any privileged information or material, such as attorney-client work products prepared by Counsel. D. Classification Interpretations – On request of any interested person, and upon receipt of the requisite information and payment of any fees or charges that may be established, the CCSB shall research and issue nonbinding, informal opinions (interpretations) as to the classification provisions applicable to any particular commodity.
COMMODITY CLASSIFICATION STANDARDS BOARD DENSITY GUIDELINES Minimum Average Density Class (in pounds per cubic foot) 50
Less than 1
The density guidelines are used in the assignment of classes where average density is representative or reflective of the range of densities exhibited. Furthermore, the density/class relationships set forth in the guidelines presume that there are no unusual or significant handling, stowability or liability characteristics, which would call for giving those characteristics additional or different “weight” in determining the appropriate class.
COMMODITY CLASSIFICATION STANDARDS BOARD VALUE GUIDELINES Maximum Average Value Class Per Pound 50
Unlike density, value per pound is not in and of itself a separate transportation characteristic. Value per pound is only one component of the liability characteristic. Accordingly, information relating to value per pound must be analyzed in conjunction with the other liability elements, i.e., susceptibility to theft, liability to damage, propensity to damage other freight, perishability, and hazardous nature. Where those other liability elements are found to present no substantial problems or concerns, value per pound is of less significance. Consequently, the value guidelines cannot be viewed as forming a matrix with the density guidelines, where one is measured against the other to arrive at the appropriate class representing an “average” of the two factors. Rather, the value guidelines provide an indication of the upper value limits associated with the various classes, as determined using the density guidelines.