Washington Insider
Go it alone? Not always

By Mike Joyce
OOIDA director of legislative affairs


Have you ever heard the phrase “There is no ‘I’ in ‘TEAM’ ”?

It means that a team effort relies on unselfishness by the individuals on the team, and a willingness to work together toward the greater good of the cause or common goal – Together Each Achieves More (TEAM).

In Washington, there are times when our views on certain legislative and regulatory matters force us to go it alone. Often, that’s not a bad place to be. From what I have experienced, being the lone voice allows us the freedom and flexibility to fight harder, louder, stronger and smarter for our position without being corrupted or influenced by other interests. We have found success in this path in the past and will continue to do so in the future.

But sometimes, whether we like it or not, we have to use the team philosophy to get our goals accomplished. Occasionally, it is smart to work with other organizations and individuals. This might involve partnering; forming and joining coalitions; signing onto joint letters; attending press conferences and meetings with other groups; or just communicating with others who have similar interests and goals.

Two recent examples of our successful use of teamwork included the effort to keep I-80 in Pennsylvania toll-free, and the continuing effort in New York State to stop a proposed regulation that would restrict trucks from using certain secondary routes. Both of these issues are important because of the national implications these ill-conceived policies could have on truckers all over the country. States tend to look to each other when they set policy.

In the case of I-80, we enlisted the support of several prominent organizations in Washington, including the American Highway Users Alliance, the American Motorcyclists Association, ATA, Natso, and the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association to form the Americans for a Strong National Highway Network coalition.

Together we sent letters, issued press releases, and met with key U.S. DOT and Congressional representatives to press our position in opposition to converting I-80 to a toll road. We traded inside information and took advantage of everyone’s contacts on the Hill, in the media, etc. to get our message to the right people. The effort paid off, and in April the U.S. DOT and Federal Highway Administration denied the Pennsylvania application to toll I-80.

This win sent a message loud and clear to other states thinking of doing what Pennsylvania had in mind. Those states have now taken a step back from the tolling abyss.

In New York, we worked with the leadership of the New York State Motor Truck Association, and joined more than two dozen other organizations, such as the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB), the NY Farm Bureau, the Retail Council of New York, and the Associated General Contractors of NY to fight the proposed route restrictions.

We sent letters with other stakeholders, and we submitted comments for the record to NYSDOT expressing our concern with the impact of the regulations. So far, the NYSDOT has heard us. And we are hopeful that the governor and other elected officials will see that some of the safety efforts being undertaken in the state are having the desired impact without restricting these important routes to trucks.

By working both individually and with the coalitions we either set up or joined, our message became more powerful and more widespread. Teaming is a way to better leverage each organization’s strengths while minimizing the weaknesses. And because we don’t have the enormous resources that other competing groups in Washington have, teaming can be a smart way to use those limited resources with maximum impact.

So the next time you see that OOIDA has teamed up with some other organization, don’t worry. It is because we feel there is value in that relationship in working toward a solution to one of the many challenges truckers face. LL