OOIDA Board of Directors’ Fall Meeting

In November, the OOIDA Board of Directors met at the association’s Missouri headquarters for the annual fall meeting. OOIDA President and CEO Jim Johnston presided over the full board of 22 directors, who hail from all parts of the United States.

Hard-working board members spent a week in Grain Valley, MO, to produce a substantial work agenda for the association during 2004. The board gave the nod for heavy involvement in legislative issues, affirmed support for initiation of new litigation activities and outlined plans for significant regulatory participation.

Meeting highlights

FMCSA chief is special guest. During the week of the board meeting and prior to the full board sessions, OOIDA’s executive officers and counsel held conferences with Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Administrator Annette Sandberg regarding the implementation of the new hours-of-service rules and other issues critical to professional truckers.

Chambers sworn in. As a result of 2003 elections, Woody Chambers of Eddyville, KY, was sworn in as general vice president. Bob Esler, Taylor, MI, will continue to serve as secretary. OOIDA’s slate of officers also includes Todd Spencer, executive vice president, and Rick Craig, treasurer.

Litigation activities. A compilation of updates on motor carrier litigation was presented by OOIDA’s General Counsel Paul Cullen Sr. and other attorneys from The Cullen Law Firm in Washington, DC. For details, see this issue’s “Lawsuit Update”.

Key staff additions. Central to the organization’s tactics are the growth of the association and the significance of the growth to OOIDA’s future abilities. During 2003, membership numbers reached the 100,000 goal. (By press time in January, it had exceeded 105,000.) Due to growth demands, the association will be making vital staffing additions in key areas. Two examples: beefing up the lobbying staff in Washington, DC, and bringing in-house legal counsel to headquarters.

Safety months. The board discussed the impact of June Safety Month and the “Run Compliant” effort. The board decided that while the association would support compliance every month, June would be the official focus month.

Next board meeting. The board meets twice a year to conduct the association’s business, to evaluate organizational needs for upcoming projects and to discuss and implement core strategies regarding target issues. The next meeting is tentatively planned for April 2004.

Regulatory update

OOIDA Treasurer and Director of Regulatory Affairs Rick Craig and Paul Cullen Jr. of The Cullen Law Firm gave an update on these regulatory initiatives:

English language requirement – The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration posted an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) asking questions about the English language requirement of the regulations. The notice was withdrawn.

Out-of-service criteria – FMCSA posted an ANPRM, which was withdrawn based upon FMCSA’s assertion that there is a lack of discernable safety benefits to warrant adoption into the FMCSRs.

Younger Driver Pilot Program petition – The Truckload Carriers Association’s petition was denied.

HOS – future/interpretations/ amendments/notices – FMCSA Administrator Annette Sandberg met with OOIDA officers and counsel Nov. 14 to discuss various policies and issues. The new hours-of-service rules dominated the discussion.

Diabetes exemption (Notice of Final Disposition) – OOIDA received a letter from Annette Sandberg stating FMCSA is interested in additional information on the requirement that the driver demonstrate safe operation of a commercial vehicle for three years with the disease.

Driver history (Request for Comments) – The association has submitted comments to FMCSA. OOIDA’s problems with the rulemaking are: 1) FMCSA needs to do a better job of making sure the proposed rule complies with the Fair Credit Reporting Act; and, 2) whenever a change is made to a driver’s safety file, that driver should be notified immediately to allow them to dispute the allegations.

Food safety (Department of Agriculture) – The Department of Agriculture requested comments regarding the safe transport of meat and poultry products. OOIDA has submitted comments regarding lumpers. The association’s contention is that receivers need to be responsible for those lumpers who unload the trucks. OOIDA pointed out that shippers/receivers can’t coerce drivers to hire lumpers.

Legislative issues

The legislative items on the agenda for 2004 include:

  • Pursue solutions to loading/unloading and lumping issues for truckers.
  • Pursue mechanisms, including a mandatory fuel surcharge, that allow truckers to offset fuel costs when those costs rise rapidly.
  • Promote mandatory driver education and training for all entry-level truck drivers and a graduated CDL.
  • Work to assure fairness and privacy in background checks of truck drivers.
  • Increase broker registration oversight and surety bond requirements.
  • Expand the number of safe, secure places for trucks to park.
  • Remove the FLSA exemption from overtime payment for truck drivers.
  • NAFTA – work to keep the U.S. border closed to trucks from Mexico.
  • Support roadworthiness legislation for intermodal containers.
  • Pursue posting of OSHA safety poster 3113 per STAA (your right to a safe work environment) at all truck terminals, etc., throughout the United States.
  • Oppose increases in truck size and weight.