By Sandi Soendker
“You are the last big dog on the side of the drivers.” That is what 26-year-old port trucker Paul Yurkovac told OOIDA Board members at their headquarters this past month.
Yurkovac, an OOIDA member from Newport News, VA, attended the fall meeting as a representative of the 1,000-member Owner-Operator Coalition of Virginia, a group of concerned truckers who work the ports in Hampton Roads, VA.
The changing environment at the nation’s ports was a key topic on the agenda as the OOIDA Board of Directors convened in Grain Valley, MO, Oct. 1-4.
Yurkovac and his group are fighting for efficiency during these lean economic times, efficiency that requires better communication with port officials and equipment that is not defective.
Efficiency was a word that was tossed around frequently during the fall meeting.
“In fact, it’s the key to the trucking industry getting through this downturn,” said OOIDA President and CEO Jim Johnston.
As for Yurkovac, his group’s fight is one that Johnston said will now see support from OOIDA resources.
Johnston’s work force of Board members, officers and DC staff tackled new and old business and set a brisk course of action on high-priority issues. The slipsliding economy that has dominated board meetings worldwide was also a topic at the Association’s fall meeting.
After Treasurer Rick Craig’s financial report, Johnston introduced special guest Steve Freidell, senior vice president of DeWaay Financial Network in Kansas City, MO. Freidell, who has managed a portion of OOIDA’s money since 1987, reported to the Board on the safety measures in place for the organization’s operating funds.
As the Board met, lawmakers in Washington were voting on the “bailout” package, propelling that topic into Board discussion. Freidell provided a straight-talking analysis of the current financial crisis and fielded questions from the Board.
Three members of the government affairs staff from OOIDA’s Washington, DC, office were on hand with more updates from the Hill. With congressional hearings in progress as the government gears up for the new administration and the next highway funding authorization bill, the schedule for DC staffers Rod Nofziger, Mike Joyce, Laura O’Neill and Melissa Theriault has been heavy. Todd Spencer, executive vice president, reported the Association is optimistic OOIDA will make inroads with the new administration regarding priority issues. “Regardless of who is elected, we think we’ll be in a good position to advance our goals,” he said.
Regarding the cost of fuel, Spencer said we can expect an initiative on energy during the first 100 days, no matter who is elected.
Three members of the government affairs staff from OOIDA’s Washington, DC, office were on hand with more updates. With congressional hearings in progress as the government gears up for the new administration and the next highway funding authorization bill, the schedule for Rod Nofziger, Mike Joyce, Laura O’Neill and Melissa Theriault has been heavy.
l PAC news. Spencer and Rod Nofziger, OOIDA director of government affairs, updated the Board on the current balance of the Association’s Political Action Committee Fund. Spencer reported that in 2008 so far, 1,337 members have contributed a total of $111,342.78.
Canadian issues. Rick Craig, regulatory affairs director, and Laura O’Neill of OOIDA’s DC staff reported on the latest developments in the Association’s opposition to the efforts of Canadian provincial governments to mandate speed limiters. Ontario and Quebec have approved legislation, but implementation dates have not been set. O’Neill said the regulatory phase should be implemented in 10 to 12 months. In 15 months, they could be ticketing. O’Neill confirmed that when that date is announced, OOIDA can file an notice of intent to pursue legal action.
l Litigation report. President and CEO Jim Johnston updated the Board on current legal actions in which OOIDA is involved. Seventeen cases are currently open and pending. Most involve motor carrier truth-in-leasing rules violations. Staff Editor Coral Beach reports details in this issue’s Lawsuit Update on Page 30. The Association’s case involving cross-border trucking remained undecided at press time in mid-October in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. It was argued on Feb. 12, 2008.
l Scholarship fund grows. Board Member Bill Rode gave the report from the Scholarship Committee, now in its 11th year. Each year, OOIDA awards one $2,000/year and four $1,000/year scholarships to children, grandchildren and legal dependents of OOIDA members. Currently, $18,000 is committed to 16 active students. Rode, who is chairman of the scholarship committee, reported that to date 51 young scholars from 24 states have been awarded $149,000.
In a fundraiser for the scholarship fund, Danny Schnautz of Pasadena, TX, submitted the winning bid on the quilt made by member Sue Lynch of Prairie du Chien, WI. Schnautz bid $500 on the quilt in a Silent Auction conducted during the fall months. He donated the quilt back to the scholarship fund.
The committee’s fall efforts, including a craft sale, silent auction and other activities, netted more than $5,600.
Currently, the fund’s balance is $396,320.68. LL