U.S. Truckers Shocked by Agreement With Mexico

Jul 06, 2011, 13:00 ET from Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association

U.S. jobs and tax dollars in jeopardy

GRAIN VALLEY, Mo., July 6, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Small-business truckers and professional truck drivers, represented by the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA), are fuming about a move made today by the government. U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood is signing a cross-border trucking agreement with Mexico without providing the public or Congress with the final details of the agreement.

"If the agreement is good for the U.S. why the hell is he (Secretary LaHood) sneaking down there to sign it?" said Jim Johnston, President of OOIDA. "So much for their supposed transparency. Why not let the public see the details before signing the agreement?  Seems like the Administration is dead set on caving to Mexico's shakedown regardless of the costs to the American public and our tax coffers."

The Association has adamantly opposed opening the border because Mexico has failed to institute regulations and enforcement programs that are even remotely similar to those in the United States and because there would be no relevant corresponding reciprocity for U.S. truckers.

"People in Washington are constantly talking about two things these days - creating good jobs for Americans and cutting wasteful spending.  This program does exactly the opposite for both," said Todd Spencer, Executive Vice President of OOIDA. "This program will jeopardize the livelihoods of tens of thousands of U.S.-based small-business truckers and professional truck drivers and undermine the standard of living for the rest of the driver community."

Every year, U.S. truckers are burdened with new safety, security and environmental regulations. Those regulations come with considerable compliance costs. Mexico-domiciled trucking companies do not contend with a similar regulatory regime nor with the corresponding costs.

"U.S. taxpayers have already seen too much of their money wasted as our government has attempted to accommodate trucking companies from Mexico.  Yet Mexico has done nothing to raise their trucking industry's standards or address safety and security issues associated with their trucks crossing into the U.S.," said Spencer.

As far as reciprocal access to the Mexican market, the Association knows that most truckers refuse to haul loads into Mexico because of safety concerns, noting that the Department of State issues warnings against doing so on a regular basis.

OOIDA remains unconvinced that U.S. taxpayers will benefit from supposed efficiencies that proponents of the Obama-Calderon agreement are suggesting will accompany the new program.

A report issued by the Congressional Research Service in February of 2010 stated:

"The rationale of eliminating the truck drayage segment at the border, and of NAFTA in general, is to reduce the cost of trade between the two countries, thus raising each nation's economic welfare  However the cost to federal taxpayers of ensuring Mexican truck safety, estimated by the U.S. DOT to be over $500 million as of March 2008*, appears to be disproportionate to the amount of dollars saved thus far by U.S. importers or exporters that have been able to utilize long-haul trucking authority. . . . Any accumulated savings in trucking costs enjoyed by shippers therefore should be weighed against the public cost of funding the safety inspection regime for Mexican long-haul carriers."

*The amount cited by the U.S. DOT does not include money spent by other federal and state government entities for drug interdiction, homeland security or immigration enforcement.

OOIDA also notes that trade with Mexico is already healthy and rising without the new trucking program in place.  According to the most recent data from the U.S. Department of Transportation's Bureau of Transportation Statistics, surface transportation with Mexico totaled $32.1 billion in March 2011, up 15.3% compared to March 2010.  In fact, truck-borne trade with Mexico was up 22% in March compared with February 2011 and up 15% compared with March of 2010.

Adding insult to injury is the fact that U.S. taxpayer dollars will be used to fund the program including the purchase and installation of electronic monitoring devices for Mexican trucking companies participating in the program. Funding for those devices will come from taxes paid by U.S. truckers and citizens into the Highway Trust Fund, a fund that already is teetering on insolvency.

"How many more taxpayer dollars should we spend on efforts that at best won't help us and in all likelihood will actually hurt us?" asked Spencer.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association is the largest national trade association representing the interests of small-business trucking professionals and professional truck drivers. The Association currently has more than 151,000 members nationwide. OOIDA was established in 1973 and is headquartered in the Greater Kansas City, Mo., area.

Web site: www.ooida.com
Facebook www.facebook.com/OOIDA

SOURCE Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association