OOIDA follows TEAMSTERS lead in asking for rehearing of their lawsuit against Mexican Cross Border Pilot Program

OOIDA President Jim JohnstonIt wasn’t totally unexpected following the announcement that the International Brotherhood of Teamsters has filed an appeal with the D.C. Court of Appeals for an “en banc” hearing of their lawsuit against Mexican trucks, that OOIDA would step up to once again use the US Court system in a frivolous manner.

That’s right boys and girls. OOIDA asked the US Court of Appeals to grant a rehearing or a full court “en banc” hearing regarding the issue of whether commercial drivers’ licenses in Mexico should be accepted as equivalent to those issued in the United States.

As usual, OOIDa contends trucking companies based in Mexico cannot comply with U.S. regulations and should not have full access to U.S. highways. This bogus claim has continuously been made despite the fact that overall, Mexican trucking companies have comparable and in most cases, better safety records than their US counterparts.

As did the Teamsters, OOIDA claims the Appeals Court ruling was “contrary to previous decisions of the Supreme Court of the United States and the precedents of this circuit.” Reading between the lines, this means that the Appeals Court decision does not coincide with the plaintiffs opinions and therefore have no legal basis, or in other words, they are “judge shopping”. Cases are assigned to the three judge panels at random. In a request for a full court hearing, or “en banc” hearing, the request can be refused.

As in the Teamsters appeal, the issue being raised has been settled before. In the case of the equivalency of Mexican CDL’s or Licencia Federal de Conductors, a Mutual Letter of Agreement was signed back in 1992 attesting to the equivalency of the two countries licenses.

OOIDA’s complaint is completely frivolous as is their reason for requesting the rehearing. It all revolves around one word, “States”.

Mexican Licencia FederalIn the original lawsuit, they quoted a couple of statutes. The first, 49 U.S.C.§ 31302 which says,
“No individual shall operate acommercial motor vehicle without a valid commercial driver’slicense issued in accordance with section 31308.” 49 U.S.C.§ 31302.

They went on with 49 U.S.C.§ 31308 which requires the Secretary of Transportation to set “minimum uniform standards for the issuance of commercial drivers’ licenses . . .by the States.” OOIDA therefore incorrectly asserted that, working together, Sections 31302 and 31308 require all truck drivers operating in the United States to have commercial drivers’ licenses issued by a State, and Mexico obviously is not a state.

Mexico’s CDL’s are issued by the Federal Government of the Republic of Mexico after an applicant has completed a certain number of hours in training, undergone a rigorous State and Federal background check, submitted to drug and alcohol testing by a government approved physician and laboratory and been assessed for psychiatric disorders. Licences are renewed every two years upon proof of additional training in addition to the other requirements listed.

Even if this was a valid point, which it’s not, then the same argument could be made against allowing Canadian trucks unlimited access to the United States, all 12,600 of them, because Canadian commercial drivers licences are are issued by the “province” which obviously is not a “state”, which is the basis of the argument OOIDA makes.

The Appeals Court in their ruling said,

Even if Sections 31302 and 31308 alone might prohibit Mexican truckers from using their Mexican commercial drivers’ licenses, two subsequent statutes made clear that Mexican commercial drivers’ licenses are permissible. A statute enacted in 2001 requires the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to verify that each Mexican truck driver has the proper qualifications, “including a confirmation of the validity of the Licencia de Federal de Conductor [the Mexican-issued commercial driver’s license] of each driver.”

. A second statute enacted in 2007 requires the Secretary of Transportation to publish a list of Federal motor carrier safety laws and regulations, including the commercial drivers[’] license requirements, for which the Secretary of Transportation will accept compliance with a corresponding Mexican law or regulation as the equivalent to compliance with the United States law or regulation.” U.S.Troop Readiness, Veterans’ Care, Katrina Recovery, and Iraq Accountability Appropriations Act of 2007, Pub. Law. No. 110-28, § 6901(b)(2)(B)(v), 121 Stat. 112, 184 (2007) . Those two statutes – enacted in two separate public laws directly addressing the issue of Mexican trucks – reflect Congress’s decision to allow Mexican truckers with Mexican commercial drivers’ licenses to drive on U.S. roads.

The Drivers Association would have us find that those two laws are worthless surplusage. Reading all of the relevant statutes together, as we must, we think the more sensible conclusion is that Congress decided that Mexico-domiciled truckers with Mexican commercial drivers’ licenses could drive on U.S. roads and that a Mexican commercial driver’s license would be considered the essential equivalent of a state commercial driver’s license for purposes of this statutory scheme.

We therefore conclude that the pilot program allows Mexican truck drivers to use their Mexican-issued commercial drivers’ licenses.

“The more sensible conclusion” and the correct conclusion, but not the one wanted by OOIDA, so therefore, it must be wrong. This is nothing more than another wedge issue to hide the bigotry and racism that eats the soul of the President of OOIDA, Jim Johnston. Over $1,000,000.00 a year paid to a high priced Washington D.C. law firm to bring up frivolous and baseless issues such as this. It’s time the membership stood up and demanded accountability and a change of leadership within the organization for which their dues pay for this frivolity and the $668,000.00 a year salary of the CEO.

Will they be successful in being granted a rehearing before a new three judge panel of the court? Possibly! Will the court grant an “en banc” hearing? Most likely not. And should a rehearing be ordered, there will be no injunctions and the case will fail once again as all previous attempts to delay or derail the program have done.
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This post is part of the thread: Mexico Cross Border Pilot Program – an ongoing story on this site. View the thread timeline for more context on this post.