Press Conference with U.S. Reps Hunter (R-CA), Filner (D-CA) Shines Light on Safety Issues
Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa said today that the U.S. Department of Transportation's (DOT) cross-border truck pilot program will fail. His remarks came at a news conference at California's busiest border crossing, with U.S. Rep. Bob Filner (D-CA), U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) and Todd Spencer, executive vice president of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA).
The pilot program got off to a rocky start when the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration approved trucking operator Grupo Behr from Tijuana, Mexico. The carrier owned one 20-year-old semi-tractor trailer with numerous safety issues. FMCSA had to disqualify it from the program after the Teamsters Union and others brought Grupo Behr's safety record to light. A second carrier, Transportes Olympic, of Monterrey, Mexico, has been approved to start operating in the U.S. as early as this Friday. Safety concerns have also been raised about Transportes Olympic.
"This pilot program will be a fiasco, just like the last one was," Hoffa said. "You know it's in trouble when the very first carrier that DOT approves is axed because of safety concerns. DOT has never been able to verify the safety of Mexican trucks. That's why the Teamsters for 17 years kept the border closed to a permanent program that would let any Mexican truck travel anywhere in the United States.
"Opening the border to unsafe Mexican trucks isn't in America's interest. Multinational corporations are the only ones that will benefit from this program.
"Not only are Mexican trucks unable to meet U.S. safety standards, but there's a drug war going on in Mexico that DOT seems to be ignoring. The U.S. State Department has issued travel advisories for Mexico. This is not a reciprocal agreement – no U.S. drivers would dare venture into Mexico.
"The chaos in Mexico and the lack of safety standards will force the DOT to shut down this ill-advised program as it has in the past."
Congress has repeatedly ordered similar programs shut down, voting 411-3 in the U.S. House of Representatives and 75-23 in the U.S. Senate to scuttle a Bush-era pilot program. Further, the Teamsters have filed a lawsuit in the 9th Circuit Court challenging the legality of the current program.