Opportunity, consensus, commitment to guide ’17 initiatives – OOIDA Board of Directors meeting

By Sandi Soendker, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

From proposed strategies to promotional videos and more, “Knock Out Bad Regs” dominated the agenda at OOIDA’s spring Board Meeting in April. Committing the resources of a 157,000-member organization of national influence requires months of preparation by executive leadership. That prep work paid off when Board Members signaled a hearty thumbs-up to the new campaign constructed to push back against excessive trucking regs.

“Our members have always been highly engaged, but we will really be stepping it up,” said Executive Vice President Todd Spencer. “The costly and burdensome regs and all the red tape is killing us. We need to push back hard and push back smart. This is the best opportunity we’ve had in a while.”

The campaign was launched in March at the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville and already received plenty of attention in the industry. Spencer told the Board that the key to the success and effectiveness of the campaign is the large numbers of truckers on board.

“It’s so imperative that the membership get involved,” said Board Member Trot Raney of Wake Forest, N.C. “We are the most over-regulated de-regulated industry. There are numerous diverse issues affecting our lives, families and businesses. We have a collective voice as an organization, but we need to let our elected representatives hear from us individually.”

Raney has his own authority and pulls flatbed. He was elected to the Board in 2016 and seated at the April meeting.

Federal Affairs Manager Jay Grimes attended the meeting with the team from OOIDA’s Washington, D.C., office. “The enthusiasm for the Knock Out Bad Regs at the Board meeting was especially positive,” Grimes said following the meeting.

Director of Legislative Affairs Collin Long agreed. “I think there is a genuine optimism that the new political landscape has given us the best opportunity for regulatory relief in decades. Most, if not everyone, agreed our regulatory outlook is much improved.”

Many board members saw the Knock Out campaign as a core summation of the Association’s primary strategy for 2017 – going after imprudent measures being pushed by the FMCSA and industry factions in the name of safety.

OOIDA President and CEO Jim Johnston told the Board that the Association’s D.C. office is closely watching for opportunities that exist with the Trump administration, which has pledged to reduce regulations.

Reports and discussion thoroughly covered the Association’s current involvement in a number of regulatory processes including the electronic logging device mandate, speed limiters, medical certification, sleep apnea, safety fitness determination and more.

Board Member from Olympia, Wash., Tilden Curl said if he were to report to the membership on what happened at the Board Meeting, it would be to give attention to the number of live issues on the agenda. At April’s meeting, OOIDA leadership proceeded through rounds of committee meetings following by three full days of board sessions.

“I think what sticks out overall is how many different issues we are working on,” said Curl. “We had our first parking committee meeting this time. We had reports of new data from the OOIDA Foundation. We had a lengthy discussion from the Cullen Law Firm guys about the ELD fight and what happens next. We discussed new and unexpected allies in Congress. We talked about the Knock Out Bad Regs campaign and how we need our membership to step up in these fights.”

Curl is an owner-operator with his own authority. He’s served as a Board alternate and at the fall Board Meeting last year, he was elected to a full board position.

Life Member Chuck Paar, Mount Jewett, Pa., is a small-fleet owner with five owner-operators. Newly elected, he was sworn in at the April meeting. “I am impressed by the spirited, sometimes fierce debate of the Board,” he said after the meeting. “It shows the passion and dedication of the members. While unique individuals, we all work toward the common good of the Association.”

Trucker, farmer, businessman Terry Button is a Board Member from Rushville, N.Y. After serving as an alternate on the OOIDA Board, he was elected to a full seat in 2008. He also serves on the National Freight Advisory Board. Button says he never fails to be encouraged by the commitment of OOIDA’s Board of Directors.

“I like listening to everyone in the room,” he said. “We all have concerns for the well-being of OOIDA, our industry and members. Concern for our country is right up there, too.”

Button likes to gauge the commitment in the room by the yeas and nays of the frequent votes. “I like unanimous votes on no-brainers, of course, but often we have votes that are really close. And that is so important. That way we all see that things are looked at differently.

“But most important is being in the room with all the people I have come to admire, respect and care for deeply. They are the best of the best.”

Newly seated Board Member Doug Smith, Bountiful, Utah, is an owner-operator currently operating dump truck and heavy haul. A longtime member, Smith likes the commitment of the Association to the OOIDA Mary Johnston Scholarship program. His seat on the Board brings him a close-up view of the scholarship activity. “It’s nice to hear of the good results coming through our scholarships,” he said.

For Smith, however, the highlight of the Board Meeting sessions was the report from the Cullen Law Firm.

“OOIDA gets little thanks from many people that are beneficiaries of successful lawsuits,” said Smith. “The Association does a lot of heavy lifting that should result in an increase of membership, but in today’s society it seems largely thankless.”

The Cullen Law Firm provided a litigation update for board members. Recently filed briefs and pending cases were reviewed by Paul Cullen Sr., Paul Cullen Jr. and Daniel Cohen. Several longstanding cases were discussed, including OOIDA v. CARB and several FMCSA cases.

“After 17 years, the Arctic case that became the Comerica case is finally finished,” Cullen Sr. told the Board. “That means about $1.2 million to drivers.”

Cohen reported on the ongoing CARB lawsuit and the successful New York HUT lawsuit. See Page 45 in this issue for the latest on the $44.4 million victory. Cullen Jr. updated the Board on the status of the Mexican cross-border pilot program.

The OOIDA Board of Directors meets twice a year to conduct the Association’s business, to gauge organizational needs for various projects and to discuss and put into action strategies regarding the Association’s target issues.

The next board meeting is scheduled for Oct. 11-14. LL