OOIDA was founded in 1973 to provide professional drivers, owner-operators and small-fleet truckers a voice in determining their own future. The first department established within the fledgling organization was the membership department.
- Can anyone join OOIDA?
Yes, as long as they are working in the industry for at least 40 hours a week.
- How much are dues?
Annually, it’s $45 per membership plus $10 for each power unit.
- Is there a special wife rate?
Yes, your spouse can join for an additional $10.
- Can you join or renew on the web site?
Either can be done at www.ooida.com.
- Do you offer a lifetime membership?
Yes, the cost is $25 per year until age 65 (or a minimum of $100).
“Everything was done by telephone and Rolodex when I started,” recalls department supervisor Joy Guffey, who has been with OOIDA since 1974. “With only about 2,500 members we could do everything by hand.”
Joy worked wherever she was needed in the early years — hand addressing, stamping and mailing member correspondence and newsletters, selling insurance and bundling Land Line magazines for mailing. Through the ’80s and early ’90s, the tasks of a growing department evolved to meet the needs of a burgeoning membership. Today, Joy supervises a team of 13 dedicated professionals that make up the OOIDA membership department of 2002. They are responsible for the entry level needs and annual renewal of a member base of nearly 80,000. And that’s not all.
Membership and OOIDA’s grassroots effort
Given this department’s history with OOIDA, it’s no surprise this team is not only in charge of the membership administrative tasks, but is substantially involved in grassroots campaigns known as “Call to Action” alerts. The secret to effectively getting the message through to lawmakers is to combine lobbying with grassroots involvement from constituents living in the lawmaker’s district.
OOIDA accomplishes this through the Call to Action program that keeps thousands of professional truckers tuned in to legislative issues at both the state and federal level.
“Now, a Call to Action can mean calling 30 members in one jurisdiction,” says Joy, “to 40,000 members on our Call to Action network nationwide.”
Each participant in the CTA program pledges to write letters, e-mail and make phone calls to lawmakers on important issues in trucking. Any professional trucker can sign up to be part of OOIDA’s Call to Action network.
When a Call to Action campaign is initiated at OOIDA’s executive level, it is membership’s task to notify members. The telephone is still the most effective tool. If more callers are needed, Joy coordinates the effort with other departments. “With membership in the association moving toward 100,000, I’m glad we have our team to man the phones,” Joy says. “But, last year when the fuel surcharge bill was being pushed hard in Washington before the legislative session ended, we had 42,000 calls to make. Then every employee at OOIDA became involved.”
Up close and personal with members
“We field an average of 630 phone calls weekly,” says Nikki Tatzko, assistant supervisor for the department. “Many of these calls are potential members. Typically, these people have a lot of questions. They usually want to know what OOIDA can do for them.” Nikki says for everyone on the membership team, information on OOIDA’s involvements and current position on hot issues is a daily mission. Membership takes time each week to be briefed on the association’s activities and in-house programs.
Nikki says the flow of information works both ways. Once a member gets familiar with OOIDA, he or she becomes a source of information about what is happening out on the road. “We get to talk to the same people and become friends with them,” Nikki explains. “They are a great source of information.”
Staying on top of what’s happening in the industry is a constant learning process for membership. “There are always new regulations to familiarize yourself with to be able to inform members,” Nikki says. “It’s a challenge, but it’s also very rewarding.”
Can I help you?
Membership’s team leader and department trainer is Nancy Anderson, one of OOIDA’s most knowledgeable staffers when it comes to the various services offered by the organization. Among the experienced membership personnel who handle dispersal of information requests to prospective and active members, update address information and assist in mailings are Vicki Gorman, Joe Shewmaker, Cindy Elefson, Dwayne Meyers and Nancy Smith. Together, they organize and answer requests for information about services the association provides to truckers. Brenda Katchmarik handles departmental mail as well as incoming questions about membership status.
Part of membership’s duties include keeping track of members eligible for safe driving awards. Jo Ann Vanderlinden heads the safe driving award program, which began last year. Once a member sends in their application with proof of safe driving, she sends out a certificate and patch recognizing their achievement. “Drivers who have a history of safe driving deserve some recognition for their professionalism,” says Jo Ann.
Another duty that falls under the membership umbrella is filling orders for the OOIDA gear seen in Land Line. “The department prides itself on quick delivery,” says membership staffer Misty King.
Although the membership staff’s jobs may vary, each one of them will tell you they’ve one thing very much in common — working at OOIDA has instilled a tremendous respect for truckers. Joy says, “We know truckers have it rough on the road and need an organization like OOIDA to represent them.”
What’s the goal in 2002
“Right now, our department signs up about 1,300 new members each month,” says Joy. “We are working toward 100,000. That many members will help ensure that OOIDA has an important voice in Congress.”
Consortium Management Company Inc.
DOT drug and alcohol testing rules is the law. Consortium Management Company Inc. (CMCI), a wholly owned subsidiary of OOIDA, was established to help eliminate the hassle and confusion of mandatory drug and alcohol testing. It’s a simple program available for a low price of $100 for members, far less expensive than any other consortium available to truckers. It’s managed by the staff in OOIDA’s membership department.
Nikki Tatzko is an 11-year employee who heads up OOIDA’s drug consortium. She and Joy Guffey, Jean McDonough, and Steve Nickell make up the unit that manage the program’s quarterly random drug and alcohol testing.
Among the program’s benefits are random drug and alcohol testing, company policy, educational requirements, semi-annual summaries and complete recordkeeping. Post-accident, pre-employment, return-to-duty or follow-up drug screens are also available for only $50 per test. More information about the program is available by calling 1-800-288-3784.