Calls and letters are flooding into the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association from truckers expressing everything from dismay, to outrage, to genuine fear for their livelihood with the opening of the border to Mexican motor carriers.
The message has been loud and clear from Congress to the Bush administration that this program is not to move forward without being thoroughly checked. The fact that it’s being shoved through without complying with the letter of the law is not sitting well with a lot of truckers – truckers like Gail Daugherty.
Daugherty, a 20-year plus OTR driver and one who makes frequent trips to Laredo, TX, has seen first hand the trucks and trailers operating in the commercial zone under the current cross-border agreement.
“The gall of this administration to wait until Congress is out of session is appalling,” said Daugherty. “We were promised nothing was going to happen until all the i’s were dotted and the t’s were crossed. What a crock!”
A complicated web of regulations governs the U.S. trucking industry – regulations that many truckers fear their Mexican counterparts may not be subject to.
“Why in God’s name would they allow this, when the truckers in this country must abide by the rules and regulations,” trucker Rob Morris pointed out in a letter to Land Line.
“Each state has its laws governing big rigs that haul in their state – axle requirements, permits, length of loads, weights, hazardous material bans and laws. Certain kinds of brakes are not allowed, width of load, flagged shipments.”
Dave Faltermeier has seen firsthand how the enforcement community may handle a driver who cannot communicate in English.
“I’ve had enough, and enough is enough,” Faltermeier wrote to Land Line. “I was at the Harrisonville Scale in Harrisonville, MO, last summer down on Highway 71, and was inside the scale house, when there was a driver in there, from God knows where, who couldn’t even speak English and properly communicate with the scale attendant whatsoever. It was so bad that he just let the driver go on his way and gave up even trying.
“Of course I ended up getting a measly logbook violation, for being a few hours behind, go figure.”
Freight demand and rates are already down in the U.S. and truckers are worried what impact the competition from Mexican motor carriers, whose drivers will most certainly make far less than their U.S. counterparts, will have.
OOIDA member James Thomas of Barry, Ontario, says rates for Canadian truckers who pick up back-hauls in the states are already depressed.
He fears opening the southern border will make things worse.
OOIDA encourages truckers with concerns about the cross-border program to immediately contact their U.S. lawmakers. If there’s only time for a phone call or two, the Association recommends calling your two U.S. Senators.
The U.S. Capitol Switchboard phone number is (202) 224-3121. If you don’t know who your U.S. lawmakers are, you can call the OOIDA Membership Department 1-800-444-5791 and they will look the information up for you.
– By Jami Jones, senior editor