Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Teamsters Praise House for Voting to Ban Unsafe Mexican Trucks

Members Vote Overwhelmingly To Stop Cross-Border Trucking Pilot Program

Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa commended the 395 members of Congress who voted today to close the border to dangerous trucks from Mexico.

The House of Representatives passed a bill to end the cross-border trucking program by a vote of 395 - 18. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., also prohibits the transportation secretary from granting authority to any Mexican trucks beyond the commercial zone, unless specifically authorized by Congress. The bill passed committee in July unanimously by a voice vote.

"This bill makes it very clear that Congress wants the border closed," Hoffa said. "This time, the Bush administration can't pretend it doesn't understand what Congress means."

Congress passed a law last year that cut off funds for opening the border. The Bush administration claimed the law was ambiguous and kept the border open. The Teamsters challenged the Bush administration in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco and is awaiting a decision.

"We know the Bush administration can't guarantee that trucks and drivers from Mexico are safe," Hoffa said. "We know there aren't any certified drug testing labs in Mexico. We know the database for Mexican driver traffic violations is inadequate. We know Mexico doesn't enforce hours-of-service violations."

Despite the bipartisan opposition to opening the border to dangerous trucks from Mexico, the Transportation Department said it will extend the program for another two years.

The Transportation Department has shown it is incapable of reviewing the safety records of Mexican carriers that want to participate in the pilot program. The agency approved Trinity Enterprises as a participant, though its own database indicated the company had more than 1,200 safety violations, or about 100 per truck.

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