Friday, April 19, 2013

Teamsters vow to fight on despite court decision upholding Mexican trucks

The Teamsters will continue to fight against opening the border to unsafe Mexican trucks now that an appeals court upheld the U.S. Department of Transportation's cross-border trucking pilot program.

Today the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled the U.S. Department of Transportation's pilot program meets the legal requirements. Teamster officials will review their options with the union's attorneys.

The Teamsters predicted that the pilot program would fail to attract enough participants to reach valid conclusions about the safety impact of Mexican trucks on U.S. highways. The DOT's inspector general agreed in a report issued late last year. The report said,
We found that the low participation in the pilot program puts FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) at risk of not meeting its goals for providing an adequate and representative sample of Mexico–domiciled carriers and inspections necessary to assess the impact on motor carrier safety.
Here's what the Teamsters' press statement said:
The International Brotherhood of Teamsters is disappointed in the court’s decision upholding the legality of the pilot program to open our borders to unsafe Mexican trucks. The union is reviewing its options with our attorneys. 
In the meantime, the Teamsters will continue to fight to uphold safety standards on our highways. Our members who drive for a living should not have to put their lives at risk because dangerous trucks are allowed free use of our roads.  
It’s important to note that nothing in the court’s decision says Mexican trucks will be safe. In fact, the court found that Mexico-domiciled trucks don't have to comply with federal safety requirements for vehicles introduced into interstate commerce. The judges concluded those requirements don't apply to "foreign commerce."  We think this conclusion is not only wrong, but contradicts a previous D.C. Circuit opinion about safety regulations for tires: National Association of Motor Bus Owners v. Brinegar. 
The court also found that it’s all right for some Mexican medical standards to be less stringent and some to be more stringent than U.S. standards. We argue that it matters that drivers are able to see red, yellow and green, a requirement in the U.S. but not in Mexico. 
Finally, we don’t agree with the court that the U.S. Department of Transportation can be trusted to draw statistically valid conclusions from the pilot program about the safety of Mexican trucks. History has shown, and DOT has admitted, that it’s almost certain that very few Mexican carriers will participate in the program. 
Stay tuned.