Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Mexican trucks don't belong on U.S. highways

James P. Hoffa

Unemployment is still high in Michigan and will remain so for some time. The economic recession blew a hole in the state budget, and government workers' wages are likely to be cut. Given this bleak picture, it makes no sense to let Mexico's trucking companies take American truck drivers' jobs and depress American workers' wages.

The Department of Transportation last week proposed that the United States re-start a cross-border trucking program with Mexico — part of the NAFTA trade deal. The Bush administration had already tried such a program and failed. Though the Bush program cost taxpayers $500 million, U.S. officials still weren't able to verify that all Mexican trucks were checked when they crossed the border. Hardly any Mexican trucks ended up driving beyond the border zone — about three a day.

The tremendous cost to taxpayers doesn't even take into account the horrifying drug violence in Mexico. Ciudad Juarez, just across the river from El Paso, is the most dangerous city in the world. Texas public safety officials warned travelers not to go to Mexico over the holidays, and the U.S. Homeland Security Department notified the trucking industry in October that criminals already hijacked over 10,000 trucks in Mexico that year. Homeland Security also reported that, "Drug traffickers also have been known to hijack and clone legitimate commercial trucks to transport illicit cargo across the border."

My union will fight against opening the border to Mexican trucks. We simply don't believe U.S. taxpayers should pay to let more Mexican companies depress American workers' wages.

We aren't just fighting for workers whose living standards would be threatened by opening the border. We're fighting for the safety of all Americans. We don't want drugs and violence coming north. And we don't want dangerous trucks driving along our highways. We don't think Mexican law enforcement officials can guarantee the safety of their trucks and drivers, especially when they're consumed with a violent drug war.

The United States has an enormous automotive trade deficit with Mexico. We sent a good chunk of our auto manufacturing to Mexico, which sells us over $42 billion more autos, trucks and automotive parts than we sell them. We shouldn't be rewarding Mexico for taking much of our auto industry by giving them the cross-border trucking program they want. We should be taking back our auto industry.

It simply isn't true that jobs lost to Mexico will never come back. Ford is bringing back to Michigan jobs assembling battery packs for hybrid vehicles from Mexico.

Sallie Mae, the student loan company, said it would move 2,000 call-center jobs back from India, Mexico and the Philippines. General Electric is bringing 200 refrigerator-manufacturing jobs back to Bloomington, Ind., from Mexico. The company was motivated by tax credits for making new, greener refrigerators.

There's power in a union. There's power in collective action. Our elected representatives will be forced to listen if we keep telling them we don't want the Mexican border opened and we want good jobs brought back to America.

Top Truck Drivers Selected to New America's Road Team

The American Trucking Associations today announced the Captains of the 2011-2012 America's Road Team. The premier group of million-mile, accident-free professional truck drivers will spend the next two years representing the trucking industry and delivering its highway safety message to the motoring public.

18 captains, with a collective 483 years behind the wheel and over 36.5 million accident- free miles, were selected from a group of 34 finalists who competed this week before a panel of judges from the trucking industry and related fields. The competition included a review of trucking industry expertise and a demonstration of their communication skills, combined with their community service and lifetime safety records.

“The America's Road Team puts an impressive face behind the wheel,” said ATA President and CEO Bill Graves. “These ambassadors to the industry have remarkable safe driving records and an unmatched enthusiasm for their job and for the industry. Their desire to share their knowledge and passion for safety benefits the motoring public and helps keep our highways safe. The trucking industry is proud to welcome the 2011-2012 America’s Road Team.

ATA created America's Road Team in 1986. It continues today with the generous support of Volvo Trucks North America. The Team represents America's 3.4 million professional drivers and serves as an example of the professional dedication and teamwork needed to deliver America's freight safely and on time.

"Volvo Trucks congratulates the highly skilled drivers chosen to serve as trucking industry ambassadors in 2011 and 2012," said Ron Huibers, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Volvo Trucks North America. "These dedicated professionals help create safer highways for all of us and ensure the timely delivery of life's essentials. Volvo also applauds the companies who so generously provide these drivers, making the America's Road Team possible."

While maintaining their jobs as full-time professional drivers, the new America's Road Team Captains will now travel the country speaking on behalf of the trucking industry to the community, news media and public officials. The Captains will address transportation and safety issues, speaking at community events and anywhere they can reach the motoring public to share safe driving tips and offer advice on how to safely share the road with tractor-trailers.

The America’s Road Team Captains also advocate safety to those within the industry at terminals and truck stops. They speak with fellow drivers, driver training students and corporate safety officers. They also have the opportunity to present trucking and safety issues before our public officials, at the national, state and local levels.

To be nominated to serve as an America’s Road Team Captain, the candidates must be employed as a company driver or leased owner-operator by a full-dues-paying member of ATA. Each nominee must have an excellent safety record and demonstrate an ability to communicate a commitment to safety and professionalism.

2011-2012 America’s Road Team Captains

Willie Atkinson Con-way Freight, Inc. Florence, SC

Gary G. Babbitt Central Freight Lines, Inc. Irving, TX

Joe Allen Boyd Wal-Mart Transportation Mt. Crawford, VA

David Boyer ABF Freight System, Inc. Wytheville, VA

Randall Dee Briggs YRC West Valley City, UT

Danny Fuller Con-way Freight, Inc. Jonesboro, AR

Samuel Douglas Lee Old Dominion Freight Line Greensboro, NC

Alphonso Lewis YRC Montgomery, AL

Kenny Lowry Wal-Mart Transportation Laurens, SC

Dennis Martin UPS Freight Gaffney, SC

Nate McCarty ABF Freight System, Inc. Denver, CO

Tim McElwaney ABF Freight System, Inc. Conley, GA

Roger L. Nicholson UPS Freight Savannah, GA

J.W. Ray Werner Enterprises Omaha, NE

Dion Saiz FedEx Freight Albuquerque, NM

Jeffrey Wade Southeastern Freight Lines Summerville, SC

Brooks Washburn FedEx Freight Albuquerque, NM

Robert L. Welle Hahn Transportation Inc. New Market, MD

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

YRC’s top spot isn’t easy to fill

As bumpy as the road remains, Overland Park-based trucker YRC Worldwide Inc. has made it to the start of 2011, though some industry observers continue to doubt its future. But whether YRC’s trucks are on America’s highways at the end of the year could hinge on who becomes its lead driver.

In late September, YRC head Bill Zollars announced he would be retiring from the company, where he took over as chairman and chief executive officer in 1999. Under Zollars, the company grew immensely through two big acquisitions in 2003 and 2004, but the resulting huge debt load became a handicap in 2007, when the freight economy began its deep, downward spiral. Full Story.......