Owner-Operators Continue Fight on Mexican Trucks

The International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) and Sierra Club, both of which opposed allowing Mexican trucks access to the US beyond the current border-area restriction, acknowledged that when the US Congress cut off funding for the pilot project that allowed Mexican motor carriers to make deliveries anywhere in the US, the need for legal action was “moot.” Not so the Owner Operators Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA).

OOIDA President Jim Johnston and Executive Vice President Todd Spencer were part of a meeting with Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood on the subject of a cross-border trucking program with Mexico. “Before the US is faced with any real obligation to open its border to Mexican trucks, Mexico is going to have to get its regulatory and enforcement ducks in a row,” said Jim Johnston. He reportedly told the DOT Secretary, “Until Mexico develops a safety infrastructure of trucking regulations and enforcement comparable with what truckers face in the [United] States, the US is under no obligation to open up its border.”

Johnston argued that the US is required to “afford national treatment” which he says means equal treatment, no better and no worse than what is required of US carriers and drivers.

On the other side of the border, CANACAR, the Mexican motor carrier association, filed a Notice of Arbitration after the cross-border pilot program was shut down. It said, in part, that shutting down the program could cost Mexico $2 billion per year. The Mexican government's retaliation establishing tariffs on some US goods imported into Mexico is estimated to carry a $2.4 billion price tag for the US.

OOIDA continues to hold the line that the exceptions granted Mexican carriers under the Bush Administration are illegal. It wants to ensure they are not used again in future programs. In a letter to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, OOIDA says it has argued that unless a ruling is handed down on the lawfulness of that program, the government could use invalid data to support a more expansive cross-border trucking program. OOIDA contends that the previous DOT Secretary had unlawfully granted Mexico-based motor carriers exceptions to following US safety regulations. “Those exceptions should never have been made and Mexico should be expected to raise its standards before its trucks are allowed full access to all our highways,” said OOIDA's Johnston.

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