DOT's MEXICAN TRUCKING PROPOSAL DRAWS IRE OF US TRUCKERS
NWV News writer Jim Kouri
Posted 1:00 AM Eastern
January 7, 2011
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When the U.S. Department of Transportation's revealed its plans for opening American roads to Mexican trucking companies, the proposal met with the ire of U.S. truck drivers.
"With so much focus in Washington on creating jobs, it's a bit shocking that the administration would pursue a program that can only rob U.S. drivers of their jobs," said Todd Spencer, Executive Vice President of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, in a statement released on Thursday.
"While we appreciate that the administration is proposing to allow Congress and the public to weigh in on a future trucking program with Mexico, they seem to be missing the main issue at hand," continued Spencer. "The onus is upon Mexico to raise their regulatory standards, not on the U.S. to lower ours to accommodate their trucking industry."
The federal government promises a 37-point inspection for the Mexican trucks, and personal interviews with drivers, but only for the pilot program. After that, it's back to random checks. But after the pilot program is terminated experts are sure questionable trucks and sketchy wheelmen will slip through the cracks.
American truckers believe that to ensure the safety and security of U.S. citizens, Mexico-domiciled trucking companies and truck drivers must be required to comply with the same level of safety, security and environmental standards that apply to their U.S.-based companies and drivers, not only while they are operating in the U.S., but also in their home country. To date, Mexico has failed to institute regulations and enforcement programs that are even slightly similar to those in the United States, according to the OOIDA.
"Mexico has been bullying our government into allowing their trucking companies to have full access to highways across the U.S. while refusing to raise regulatory standards in its own trucking industry," Spencer pointed out in a press statement. "Mexico's regulatory standards aren't even remotely equivalent to what we have in the U.S."
"Every year, U.S. truckers are burdened with new safety, security and environmental regulations. Those regulations come with considerable compliance costs," said Spencer. "Mexico-domiciled trucking companies do not contend with a similar regime nor must they contend with the corresponding costs."
In addition, once Mexican companies are allowed access to U.S. highways and roads, they will possess an unfair advantage: Mexico's licensed truck drivers are paid lower wages while the companies enjoy freedom from the restrictions, taxes, regulatory costs and other expenses hoisted on American trucking companies and truckers.
OOIDA notes that the primary objective of NAFTA is to ensure the North American nations enjoy the prosperity that would result from the free flow of goods across borders. In order to achieve this end, the agreement seeks to ensure that each country affords the others access to economic opportunity.
However, OOIDA officials contend that under current conditions in Mexico there is little opportunity or willingness on the part of U.S. truckers to compete there.
"Until the Mexican government is able to significantly diminish the rampant crime and violence within its borders, commits to addressing its deteriorated infrastructure, and promulgates regulations that significantly improve its trucking industry, U.S. truckers will be unable to benefit from the anticipated reciprocity," said Spencer.
"If a new cross-border trucking program were implemented in the near future, U.S. truckers would be forced to forfeit their own economic opportunities while companies and drivers from Mexico, free from equivalent regulatory burdens, take over their traffic lanes."
Also, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Transportation promulgated the first national standards to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and improve fuel efficiency of heavy-duty trucks and buses. This comprehensive national program is projected to reduce GHG emissions by nearly 250 million metric tons and save 500 million barrels of oil over the lives of the vehicles produced within the program’s first five years. However, there is no mention of foreign trucks and buses being compelled to adhere to these standards.
MEXICO'S CRIMINAL TRUCK DRIVERS
The North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA, was passed by the Democrats and Republicans in both the House and the Senate and signed into law by President Bill Clinton with the promise it would allow goods and services to flow more freely between the U.S., Canada and Mexico.
Unfortunately, many of the goods entering America from Canada are illegal drugs, the trafficking of which was made easier by the trade pact.
With a billion dollars worth of cargo crossing the U.S.-Mexico border every day, free trade is one of the greatest gifts for drug traffickers, say NAFTA opponents.
Many of the illegal drugs that make their way into the U.S. from Mexico are brought across the border in plain sight, in the form of commercial vehicles. Customs agents charged with inspecting those vehicles are overwhelmed at the border, according to a veteran law enforcement officer, Stephen Rodger.
"I'm told by fellow cops that since NAFTA passed over 16 years ago, truck traffic through Laredo, Texas alone has tripled," said Lt. Rodger
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This past fiscal year, 4.7 million commercial vehicles have crossed into America from Mexico. Only one in five of those vehicles is stopped and checked. Even with such a low inspection rate, thus far in the year, inspection agents have already seized 96 tons of marijuana.
Some Mexican trucker drivers are forced to participate, while others are paid to smuggle the drugs. Apparently, Mexico’s drug cartels have infiltrated trucking companies and manufacturing facilities across Mexico, according to law enforcement sources.
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