Friday, May 27, 2011

Teamsters say NOOOOO!! to Mexican trucks

Hats off to Teamsters for submitting at least a thousand comments to the U.S. Department of Transportation!

There were so many comments it took the DOT weeks to post them all. We think all 2,275 comments have finally been posted, and the vast majority say "NOOOO" to Mexican trucks. 
You can read them all here.

We looked at 10 percent of the postings (this takes time!) and figure comments were running at least five-to-one against opening the border. Just about the only people who support it are the growers and pork producers who were hurt by the excessive tariffs that Mexico wrongly imposed on the U.S.

Some of the Teamster comments were long and thoughtful and some were short and angry, but it was clear Teamsters dominated the discussion. Independent drivers joined us in condemning the program for its threat to jobs, safety, air quality and border security. We saw comments from Vic Terranella, president of Local 41 in Kansas City, Thomas Ratliff, president of Teamster Local 639 in Washington, D.C., Patrick Kelly, secretary-treasurer of Local 952 in Orange, Calif.; Rick Hicks, secretary-treasurer of Local 174 in Tukwila, Wash., Michael Ceoffe, vice president of Local 249 in Pittsburgh. The IBT submitted comments, of course (read a summary here) and there are undoubtedly plenty more.

Some interesting points:
  • Linda Sunkle-Pierucki, a long-time trucker and trucking journalist writes that "Mexican carriers have already stated that they do not expect to be able to meet EPA standards for clean diesel as the supply is not in place and won't be for quite some time. Should we expect, then, that U.S.-domiciled trucks will be given a waiver of all EPA standards until Mexican trucks can meet the requirements? If not, the U.S. is violating the terms of NAFTA in that Mexican trucks and US trucks must meet the same standards.
  • Dale Newkirk writes "CVSA sticker mandate is a joke. These can be "purchased" by mechanics that patrol the lots of truckstops for $45." He also notes there is no active enforcement of cabotage rules for Canadian truckers.
  • Vic Teranella writes "the Department of Transportation Office of the Inspector General has reported that Mexican carriers in significant numbers are already operating illegally byond the commercial zone even before the implementation of the cross-border pilot program. Mexico's complete disregard for existing rules and regulations is a clear in dication that they do not intend on honoring the government provisions negotiated in this agreement and are therefore not to be trusted with our public safety."

We actually got some help from Phyllis Schlafly of the Eagle Forum, who referred to a poll showing only 19 percent of Americans support opening the border. She also notes that the regulation calls for "review" of the drivers' records and inspections of their trucks, but doesn't even state whether trucks and drivers who flunk inspection will be injected.

We hope the DOT takes a good, long time to digest all these comments and then makes the only wise decision possible -- to pull the plug on the program.