Exposing the lies and hypocrisy of OOIDA with regards to latest attack on a Mexican applicant to the Cross Border Program

Mexico line haul trucks
OOIDA and it’s allies continue to try to keep safe, well maintained rigs such as these off of American highways with bogus and patently untrue protests to the FMCSA.

I wrote yesterdayabout OOIDA and their President Jim Johnston’s rather idiotic protest against another Mexican carrier seeking entry into the Cross Border Pilot program, questioning that carriers “fitness” to participate. Today, we’re going to drill down a little deeper and look at that carrier a little closer to determine if OOIDA has a valid concern, or if, as has become obvious, the use of the comment period is simply a final frantic attempt by OOIDA to stop the unstoppable.

The carrier in question is Grupo Cementos de Chihuahua, based in Chihuahua City, Chihuahua and operating from Cd Juarez and El Paso Texas. GCC was a participant for 16 months during the previous successful cross border program with Mexico, and participated with no apparent safety issues. I’m certain this has something to do with the form and manner that OOIDA lodged their protest against this carrier since once they receive approval this time around, they will be eligible for permanent operating authority within as little as 60 days.

In the addled minds of the leadership at OOIDA, Mexican carriers are not allowed to make any mistakes on their applications. None whatsoever, and, according to Johnston, any such admission should be counted as criminal in nature and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Pitiful. Never mind the fact that applicants are helped every step of the application and PASA by personnel from FMCSA and carriers that inadvertantly overlook something on an application, forget to cross a “T” or dot and “i” are allowed to correct the mistake. Canadians are allowed to do it so are we…

According to an article in LandlineMag,

Incomplete applications are to be rejected from the program, while any willful misstatements or omission of material facts are punishable by imprisonment, OOIDA points out.

However, OOIDA is wrong as they have been practically every step of the way in their opposition to Mexican trucking.

William Quade, FMCSA Associate Administrator for Enforcement and Program Delivery see it differently and has advised OOIDA of this in the paat. In regards to this issue, Quade wrote in response to another bogus protest against another Mexican carrier,

Under 49 CFR 365.109(a)(2), FMCSA will reject materially incomplete applications, however, applications that are in substantial compliance with the rules may be accepted. The plain language of the regulations allows FMCSA discretion in determininging whether an initial application that is deficient in some aspect, is substantially in compliance such that the Agency may accept and process the application. Additionally, pursuant to 49 CF R 365.113 FMCSA, in its discretion, may permit an applicant to supplement an application.

That seems pretty simple and straightforward, that even a child, or in this case, an Association President should be able to comprehend.

GCC’s Safety History and SMS Basics

According to the article in LandLinemag, OOIDA complained about GCC’s safety record.

Johnston also points to GCC’s safety history as criteria for rejection, citing high numbers of driver and equipment violations. One of the possible affiliates even has substandard compliance according to FMCSA’s Compliance, Safety and Accountability records.

The letter goes on to point out possible unequal application of the North American Out-Of-Service Criteria established by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance and endorsed by the FMCSA. According to the OOS criteria, drivers who do not comply with 391.11(b)(2) and cannot read or speak English sufficiently to converse with the general public are to be put out of service. The letter notes that GCC has 51 violations of that regulation, yet not all of those drivers were placed out of service.

Jim Johnston takes a very myopic and jaundiced view of the statistics, using CSA scores and SMS Basics to attack this carrier and any others that try to gain entry into the program. Ironically, CSA and the accompanying SMS Basics are two of the things OOIDA is fighting against at the moment claiming there are big problems with the programs, which they are. They hypocrisy is that they’re no good for US and Canadian carriers, but perfectly valid to be used against Mexicans.

[pullquote_left]The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association said that the CSA system is fundamentally flawed. it “does not accurately or objectively assess motor carrier safety” and should be suspended until FMCSA can fix the problems – Source: Truckinginfo.com[/pullquote_left]

In the previous 24 months prior to yesterday, GCC received 2,441 CVSA inspections. OF these, 1382 were vehicles inspections resulting in an Out of Service rate of 7%. The national average for US carriers is 20.72%. If you look at the same numbers on the old Safersys website, they’re even better. 1408 vehicle inspections with a 6.7% OOS.

And for the Mexican drivers, those dangerous, untrained, drug using, alcohol abusing illegals”, at least according to Teamsters and some OOIDA members, well, their numbers were truly pathetic. Of 2,436/2,442 driver inspections were done during the same period and the Out of Service rate among the drivers was ZERO PERCENT! Not one single driver was found to be in violation of a regulation serious enough to be put out of service.

The safety records of the affiliates really has no bearing on the fitness of the applicant carrier to safely operate in the United States. This is about GCC and not it’s affiliates. It’s interesting to note though that all of the affiliates of GCC are in the cement and ready mix business, not line haul over the road trucking.

Johnston claims favored treatment of Mexican drivers in regards to enforcment of FMCSA rule 391.11(b)(2) which states;

“Can read and speak the English language sufficiently to converse with the general public, to understand highway traffic signs and signals in the English language, to respond to official inquiries, and to make entries on reports and records”;

I happen to wholeheartedly agree with this regulation in principal, however in reality, there is no guidance to what constitutes “sufficient”. Now as for the rest of it, signs and signals are universal and lines, proper names, truck and trailer numbers are the same in Spanish or in English for the purposes of logging. Are is there guidance for law enforcement officers on this issue? There appears there is.

According to a visor card made available to law enforcement officers by the FMCSA

“Approved drivers who make a GOOD FAITH EFFORT to respond to official inquiries in English should be deemed compliant”

It has the exact same wording for the CMV Inspectors cheat card in addition to advising that all drivers cleared to participate are given an “English Proficiency Evaluation” before being cleared to participate in the program.

So, in other words, out of 2,436 driver inspections, 51 commercial zone drivers were deemed not to be in compliance with 391.11(b)(2) and based on this, the fitness of the carrier is in question? Whatever Johnston has been snorting, I want some to.

Let’s dig a little deeper and look into the other BASICS for GCC.

UNSAFE DRIVING – INCONCLUSIVE
Inconclusive because for other than for 2 minor speeding violations, 1-5 mph over the speed limit by the same truck and driver in New Mexico, there are no more violations.

FATIGUED DRIVING (HOURS OF SERVICE VIOLATIONS)
NO VIOLATIONS…. Out of more than 2,400 driver inspections, none were found to be in violation of HOS regulations. Compare that to the OOS average for the US of 5.51%

DRIVER FITNESS 87.9% (Intervention Threshold is 80%)

This is the big one that problem had Johnston and his buddy Todd Spencer doing the bunny hop together in the executive suites in Grain Valley Missouri. Oh those bad bad Messikuns!

But what does this really mean? Does prove that GCC the interstate carrier is not fit not operate in the United States? Not at all in my learned opinion.

You see folks, These 55 violations of 391.11(b)(2) were lodged against FOUR COMMERCIAL ZONE DRIVERS OVER A PERIOD OF 18 MONTHS That’s right children! It wasn’t 55 drivers that couldn’t speak English to the satisfaction of commercial vehicle inspectors, who incidentally were all Federal inspectors except in four cases of a NM state inspector, these were 4 drivers in 4 drayage trucks that got slammed by an arbitrary and capricious rule exacerbated by CSA, the exact thing OOIDA is fighting against, they use to try and prove this company unfit. Ridiculous.

CONTROLLED SUBSTANCES AND ALCOHOL
NO VIOLATIONS… And why should there be? The drugged and drunk Mexican trucker is the invention of Charles Boweden in his hit piece from 1999 titled NAFTA TRUCKERS, commissioned by the TEAMSTERS UNION.

VEHICLE MAINTENANCE 66.3% (Intervention Threshold 80%)

Not as bad as it would seem as the majority of the violations in this basic are of the Mickey Mouse, “find something wrong” variety, another problem with CSA.

The most common violations found on these drayage trucks who length of haul is less than 10 miles each way?

  1. 396.5(b)     Oil and/or Grease leak     158 violations
  2. 393.45(b)   Failure to secure brake lines against damage     94 violations*
  3. 393.47(e)   Rotoclamp type brake out of adjustment            92 violations
  4. 393.11       Lighting devices inoperative                              79 violations

*#2 is an old standby Texas DPS uses when they want to find a violation when nothing else can be found. If a break hose or tube, or light cord show the slightest contact, you get a warning and points on your CSA score, even if the trooper has to make the mark with his thumb.

BASED ON THIS, IS GCC “FIT” TO PARTICIPATE IN THE CROSS BORDER PILOT PROGRAM?

In my opinion, and in the opinions of several others whom I consulted with for this article, the answer is a resounding YES!

OOIDA has not shown any relationship between the 15 trucks and drivers that GCC will be putting on the road and the commercial zone drayage trucks and drivers whose statistics they used to protest the companies application.

And from PART C of GCC’s PASA APPLICATION,  GCC has substantially met the requirements to participate in the cross border program.

Vetting Results:

Vehicle-Inspection: The carrier designated 15 truck tractors to operate in the U.S. under the OP-1 authority pilot program. 13 cmv trucks successfully passed Level V inspections and received CVSA decals. 2 cmv trucks were in-shop for repairs and not available for inspection and will be subject to inspection at a later date. CMV pass-list scanned in eMCATS profile.

Vehicle-FMVSS Compliance: All of the vehicles designated by the motor carrier to operate under the pilot program were verified and meet FMVSS requirements. Photo copies scanned in eMCATS profile.

Vehicle-ECL Compliance: All of the vehicles designated by the motor carrier to operate under the pilot program have engine markings and meet EPA ECL vehicle emission standards. Photo copies are scanned with eMCATS profile.

Driver: The carrier designated 15 truck drivers to operate in the pilot program beyond the United States municipalities and commercial zone along the U.S.-Mexico Border. Name list is attached in eMCATS profile. All drivers listed have valid Class-A U.S. equivalent Licencia Federal. 13 Drivers were cleared in vetting process by the Emergency Preparedness and Security Division FMCSA headquarters deemed eligible. 2 new drivers highlighted in Driver list form have not cleared to this date. List of drivers are scanned in eMCATS profile.

Driver: (ELP) English Language Proficiency- 14 drivers were subject to ELP testing requirements. 9 drivers successfully passed test administered on 11/09/2011 and are scanned in eMCATS profile. 4 drivers flagged in Violation 391.11 (b)(2) and requested to re-test. Drive- could not be present or tested this date due to his border Visa permit expiring and unable to cross to the U.S.

It’s a shame the FMCSA has to waste time and man hours to address the ludicrous issues that OOIDA and their allies amongst the bogus safety groups raise in trying to prevent the United States from fulfilling it obligations under NAFTA. To hell with honesty and the truth as long as a handful of little people in the ivory tower in Grain Valley Missouri can push a personal agenda the majority of their members and the American people care nothing about.

It’s as obvious as the nose on your face what they’re doing. They’ve failed, time and time again to put a stop to the program. Even when they were marginally successful, as they were in 2009, there efforts cost American workers more than 25,000 badly needed jobs and American industry and agribusiness a substantial market share that we’re only now, slowly regaining. But OOIDA and it’s allies care nothing about this. Nothing can get in their way of stopping a handful of safe and fully vetted Mexican carriers from operating in this country.
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