Teamsters send reporter to Mexico ; Hoffa says findings show dangers

| Friday, July 14, 2006

The president of the Teamsters union says that if and when the Mexican border opens up to commerce and truck traffic, the Mexican trucks and companies that play by different rules will pose a big problem on America ’s highways.

James P. Hoffa, president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters wrote an opinion column, published in The Detroit News on Friday, July 14, stating that unsafe and unregulated trucks pose a threat to highway safety, homeland security and American jobs.

“If the Bush Administration succeeds, American drivers and their families will be forced to share the roads with unsafe, uninsured trucks, and millions more good-paying American jobs will be lost,” Hoffa wrote.

In the column, Hoffa reported that the Teamsters sent an independent investigative reporter to Mexico to check out the working conditions for truckers. He said what the reporter found was appalling.

“Most of the drivers interviewed said they had used illegal drugs to stay awake on the road. Many drivers interviewed said they had been involved in fatal accidents,” Hoffa wrote.

The Teamsters’ president said the organization would issue a report on the findings “next month” and that it will be posted on the Web at teamster.org.

Hoffa pointed the finger at big business, the governments of North America and the North American Free Trade Agreement itself for a number of the problems.

“It’s exactly what large corporations want: Cheap Mexican-made goods driven by poorly paid drivers. And Bush shares these goals,” Hoffa wrote.

He made clear that he is not bashing the drivers themselves.

“It’s no surprise that the Bush administration is once again placing insatiable greed of big business over the safety and economic security of Americans,” he concluded in the last sentence of his column.

Hoffa referenced what more and more people are figuring out, that highway corridors may someday carry NAFTA-initiated commerce from the Mexican border, through the U.S. and into Canada via a so-called NAFTA superhighway system.

Officials in Texas are already in the planning stages for a multi-lane, intermodal system of transportation from the Mexican border through to Oklahoma , called the Trans-Texas Corridor. Private investment is a key element in the plan and the TTC is expected to include toll lanes.

Other states are considering aligning new and existing highways in a manner that strongly hints at a NAFTA corridor, even though the officials in Washington , DC , say there isn’t a plan, per se, for a NAFTA superhighway.

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