Where: OOIDA headquarters
By Sandi Soendker
Young guns, highway veterans, Association leadership – they were all there last month to hash over current issues, demands of the future, and what it’s going to take to not only survive in the trucking industry, but to thrive.
The man who has been the president of OOIDA for 35 years said the Association is well-positioned for recovery, optimistic for an economic comeback, and ready to see big rewards for those who stick it out.
Hard-working Board members, who hail from all parts of the U.S., produced a substantial agenda focused largely on the Association’s strategies to positively influence the shifting transportation landscape on behalf of professional truckers.
OOIDA President and CEO Jim Johnston acknowledged falling numbers in the owner-operator segment of trucking. When there’s tough times for truckers, there’s tough times for OOIDA, he said, and at headquarters, the Association continues to find ways to cut costs.
“But there will be no cutting back on representation,” he told the Board.
Claiming a top spot on Board business was Mexican cross-border trucking. OOIDA’s Director of Government Affairs Rod Nofziger updated the Board on the recent retaliatory tariffs implemented by Mexico and the intentions of the Obama administration.
Johnston moderated a lengthy discussion on NAFTA and the implications of a Mexican trucking association’s push for arbitration before a NAFTA tribunal. OOIDA clearly has the support of Congress in its fight to keep unsafe Mexican trucks from gaining full access to U.S. roads. The Association will hold the line on this issue.
OOIDA Executive VP Todd Spencer, along with Government Affairs staff from the Washington, DC, office, presented a legislative update. This part of the meeting included a report from Mike Joyce on the upcoming highway funding bill, and an update from Melissa Theriault-Rohan on OOIDA’s Political Action Committee.
Spencer said the Association’s ability to influence issues is much greater than it’s ever been before.
“There’s a slew of players with the new administration and new Congress,” he said. “We’ve greatly expanded our presence on The Hill, especially where we’re needed to be.”
“There are major fights ahead on the political landscape,” he said. “And we must be right in the middle of it all to make certain professional truckers’ concerns are appropriately addressed.”
An update of regulatory issues was provided by Director of Regulatory Affairs Rick Craig. Along with OOIDA General VP Woody Chambers and Director of Operations for the OOIDA Foundation Tom Weakley, Craig and Regulatory Affairs Specialist Joe Rajkovacz reported on a recent meeting of the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance in which a number of OOIDA issues were discussed. Read the complete report on Page 30.
Director of Security Operations Doug Morris reported to the board on the First Observer program and the TRACER program. More on TRACER on Page 36.
OOIDA’s Government Affairs Counsel Laura O’Neill reported on the Association’s efforts regarding speed limiters in Ontario and Quebec. Read more on this on Page xx. O’Neill reported on the activities at the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports – more on Page xx.
Johnston gave the litigation update, including the Association’s plans for legal action regarding the use of the driver “fatigue checklist” now used in Minnesota. Litigation highlights are on Page 42; read more on the “fatigue checklist” on Page 24.
The OOIDA Board of Directors meets twice a year to conduct the Association’s business, to assess organizational needs for various projects, and to discuss and implement core strategies regarding the Association’s target issues. The next Board meeting is tentatively scheduled for October 2009.