HR-6630 passes 395-18 The lies of James P. Hoffa carry the day

Trucks wait to clear US Customs. The passage of HR6630 will produce longer waits resulting in more fuel consumption and pollution at border crossingsDismissing a White House veto threat, the House voted Tuesday to end a pilot program giving Mexican trucks access to U.S. highways.

The Bush administration stressed that the United States is obligated, under the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement, to open up American roads to Mexican truckers, and that terminating the year-old demonstration project would have repercussions for American trucks allowed into Mexico. Passage of the House bill, it said “would pose significant and immediate risks to U.S. interests.”

But the pilot project, which permits up to 500 trucks from 100 Mexican companies access to U.S. roads, is opposed by Jimmy Hoffa and others who say it would eliminate American jobs and that Mexican trucks are subject to less stringent safety regulations. They say Mexico lacks adequate drug testing and hours-of service standards and that the program could contribute to smuggling or insurance fraud.

This is the same old song and dance Hoffa has used to blow smoke up the publics ass since 1992. The lies and misalignment of the truth remain the same, only the talking points change to suit the audience.

100 or 1000 Mexican trucks would have no effect on American jobs nor the economic wellbeing of American carriers.

They use the tired old lie that Mexican trucks are subject to less stringent safety standards, yet rules in effect for the pilot program and the regulations that Mexican carriers operate under in their own country suggest otherwise.

The insinuation that Mexico lacks adequate drug testing is patently false. How many ways can you make a person take a piss in a cup? How many ways are there to test urine for illegal substances? And they seem to forget that Canada’s drug testing policy only requires testing for cause, whereas the US and Mexico requires it pre employment, for cause and random. They also seem to conveniently ignore the fact that Mexican drivers participating in the Cross Border Program were all tested in US laboratories on the US side of the border. This is all documented in the PASA of each individual company participating.

But it is Jimmy Hoffa’s party tonight and the wires are picking up his press release where he further pushes his lies upon the unsuspecting American public. Confident that he is that his endorsement of Obama is going to carry weight in November.

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

“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.

Same shit, different day! Dangerous trucks, dangerous trucks, even though they have completed a year with no accidents and no serious safety violations.

“We Know”! No “We” don’t know! Hoffa thinks he knows! But the facts show that

  1. The US government can’t guarantee that US or Canadian trucks are safe either. And Safersys stats show that Mexican carriers, both the Cross Border participants and Mexican drayage trucks have a much lower incidents of Out of Service orders than US or Canadian trucks.
  2. There never will be US “Certified” Drug testing labs in Mexico just as there are no US “Certified” drug testing labs in Canada. But Mexico does have drug testing on par with the US, Canada does not.
  3. The Mexican drivers database is inadeqaute for who? Jimmy Hoffa? Todd Spencer? Seems to be adequate for USDOT and FMCSA enforcement purposes. More smoke and mirrors from James P Hoffa.
  4. Mexico doesn’t enforce HOS rules? Mexico’s HOS rules specify a driver can drive no more than 8 hours a day. Canada allows 16 hours of being on duty, the US, 11 driving out of a total of 14 per 24. Mexican drivers are allowed to rest when they are tired and work when they are rested, unlike the US driver who is forced to work an 11 hour shift since the 14 hour clock cannot be stopped once started. 
  5. Hoffa claims FMCSA is incapable of reviewing safety records of companies applying for the program. This is another patently false assertion. He uses Trinity industry SA de CV as an example, falsely claiming 1100 violations or approximately 100 violation per truck. There are two very important facts they purposely overlook.
  • TRINITY INDUSTRIES SA de CV is the Mexican subsidiary of TRINITY INDUSTRIES of Dallas Texas.
  • The violations discovered were mostly on US plated trailers being pulled across the border to be given to Trinity Industries US fleet for delivery in the US! These were US trailers, not MEXICAN trailers as Hoffa and Todd Spencer would have you believe.
Where do we go from here

They would have you believe at this point that the program is dead and is going away, but that is simply not the case.

The HR6630 goes to the Senate now to be reconciled in committee with Byron Dorgan’s similar bill. Then it will be voted on by the entire Senate. The Senate is not know for speed.

Three weeks from now, Congress adjourns for electioneering. They return after the November elections for a couple of weeks before adjourning for Thanksgiving. In December, they reconvene for a couple of weeks before adjourning for the holidays, to return in January to a new administration and hopefully, new faces on both sides of the Congress.

If George Bush or whoever is in the White House vetoes the bill, it goes back to Congress for an override vote. Again, a new Congress, but who can say.

Then the lawsuits begin which can delay implementation of the law for months or years. Long after the program ends.

Or, and this is the direction I am pushing for with letters, calls and emails to the White House. President Bush can stop the program and based on the success of the past year, issue an Executive Order rescinding the 1982 Moratorium on Foreign Trucks and allowing Mexican trucks equal access to US highways. They have proven they can operate safely and within our rules and laws.

Winners and Losers

There are no winners! The losers are the American consumer who can benefit from lower transportation costs. Not cheaper freight, but not having the need to cross dock a load or pay for drayage cross border will save on transportation costs.

The 10 US companies who have rights to operate in Mexico. The actions of Congress at the behest of James P Hoffa will cost these companies money and possibly put American drivers in the unemployment line.

This Bill will not remove Mexican trucks from US Highways

Think you’ve seen the last of Mexican trucks and drivers on US highways? Think again.

Under FMCSA regulations, any Mexican carrier with a “presence” in the US, can operate with the same rights as a US carrier.

Take for example the first Mexican carrier to cross the border under this program, Transportes Olympic.

Owned by Fernando Paez of Apodaca NL, the sister companies are Olympic Transport and Fernado Paez Transport, based in McAllen Texas.

All of these trucks are dual plated, registered in both Texas and Nuevo Leon Mexico, all perfectly legal. Drivers for Transportes Olympic such as our friend Luis Gonzalez, can legally pick up a load in Monterey, and deliver it to it’s destination in the US. All perfectly legal. As Gonzalez stated in an interview last year, he has been doing it safely and without incident for the past 7 years.

Fernando Paez and Transportes Olympic is not the only participant to put themselves in this position. We’ll let the reader figure who the others are. It is not difficult to do.

Then the forgotten element in this mad race to ban 100 Mexican trucks from US roadways is the 800-1300 Mexican carriers who were grandfathered in back in 1982. “Grandfathering” means they were allowed to operate in the US before the 1982 Moratorium and the Moratorium did not effect them.

So for more than 30 years, these Mexican carriers have been operating in the US without incident and safely. Why has no one mentioned these? Perhaps because that is a fight that Hoffa can’t win?

Under Federal law, ANY Mexican truck, including the cross border drayage trucks are allowed access to the United States in order to make a delivery in Canada. They cannot load nor unload in the US but are allowed to transit the US in order to make their destination in Canada. This is another little item Hoffa and the opponents haven’t addressed.

Our status as a Nation that can be trusted has taken another hit

Treaties? Trade Agreements? We’ll Violate Them with Impunity

So with passage of this bill, the only real effect is to say to U.S. negotiating and trading partners, “Ha. You didn’t really believe us, did you? Suckers.”

Sad that this debate was driven not by facts but by one evil little man’s obsession with a group that would not and could not have any impact on the American trucking industry. And he used his distorted version of the truth, substituting truth for lies to suit his agenda.

Hoffa believes that opposition to NAFTA will bring jobs back to the US and bolster Union membership which has been declining for decades. It won’t.

Perhaps people will wake up before it is too late.

LAWSUITS AND LITIGATION FOR YEARS

I believe, short of President Bush issuing an Executive Order, we’re in for years of expensive litigation.

One thing in this bill that’s jumps out at me is this condition:

HR 6630 also prohibits the transportation secretary from granting authority to any Mexican trucks beyond the commercial zone, unless specifically authorized by Congress.

Under NAFTA, a Tri-Lateral Agreement, Canada is also a party. Why is not Canada mentioned here. This will probably be a good point for the government of Mexico to raise if they decide to go before the NAFTA arbitration board once again.

If this becomes law, Mexico will have every right to expel the American participants in the program, unless they decide to establish a Mexican subsidiary. But even then, unlike the Mexican carriers who will be able to use their own drivers in the US, the American companies will be required to hire Mexican nationals to operate in Mexico.

Expect Mexico to consider throwing tariffs up in retaliation. The NAFTA arbitration board has already given Mexico the green light to do so. And don’t expect the American companies who will be forced to pay these tariffs not to pass the added costs on to the American consumer.

People, you deserve what happens next!

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