I thought it appropriate this morning as we prepare to battle opponents of cross border trucking over the newest entrant into the program, to take a look at the underhanded manner in which opponents of this so far successful program try to oppose it.
Earlier in the month, opponents of Mexican trucks banded together and sent a letter of protest to FMCSA administrator Anne Ferro, complaining, like petulant little schoolyard bullies, that their boilerplate comments against the applicants were being dismissed out of hand. And like a stern but tolerant teacher, Ms. Ferro graciously responded, pointing out the error in their thinking. For all the good it did, going in one ear and out the other.
A week or so later, we learned that the Teamsters, one of the signatories to the letter of protest, was considering abandoning legal challenges to the program. As an alternative, they are planning on using a tried and true method of coercion. Trying to convince Congress and their few remaining cronies to open hearings into the program and establish more oversight. With all the rancor in Congress these days, I can see this being a viable option. Not!
It’s regrettable that these groups opposing Mexican trucks have been spewing their garbage, their out and out lies for so long, that it appears they actually believe what they say. Good thing they do, because very few others do.
None of this is working for them so they turned to a well respected business and news portal, Bloomberg.com in an attempt to further misinform the public.
USING THE MAINSTREAM MEDIA FOR THEIR NEFARIOUS AGENDA
I was a little surprised and pleased when I received a call from Jeff Plungis , a reporter for Bloomberg explaining he was doing an article on the Mexican truck issue and wanted my opinion to counter that of Todd Spencer, a media rep from the Teamsters and Shaun Kildare, research director at Advocates for Highway Safety. Just more proof as if any was needed of the relevance and credibility of Mexico Trucker Online.
But after reading the article, and learning that Todd Spencer of OOIDA is good friends with the author, it became apparent that the article was heavily tilted in favor of the opposition, using many of the debunked claims stated in the letter of protest.
MISUNDERSTOOD DATA CONCERNING MEXICAN TRUCKS
I can’t fault the author, Jeff Plungis , for his reporting on this issue, even though it was heavily biased. We had a pleasant conversation for almost half an hour. However, in his reporting, he took at face value the claims of OOIDA, Teamsters and Advocate without digging down deeper.
A good example of this is using the inspection numbers for some of the carriers participating in the Cross Border Pilot Program. For whatever reason, FMCSA does not separate the inspections of the trucks used exclusively the participating carrier who still has operations withing the commercial zone, from the trucks used in the pilot program.
Taken from the boilerplate comments in opposition to any Mexican carrier seeking to participate in the program, in this case RAM Trucking of Laredo Texas, Plungis wrote;
Ram Trucking SA de CV of Laredo, Texas, shares a website, a physical address and a manager with Zaro Transportation LLC, a company that has more driver violations than 99.1 percent of the U.S. trucking industry and more maintenance violations than 94.4 percent, according to regulatory data. Ram has crossed the border once during the pilot program.
Jorge Gutierrez, who identified himself as Ram’s safety manager, said in an interview that Zaro set up Ram as a separate company with a new truck and separate drivers. The company has a good track record, he said.
“They are doing all of the compliance,” Gutierrez said. “They don’t want to miss anything with the U.S. DOT.”
Reading that, you’d think that Zaro Transportation was a fly by night outfit with junk trucks running the highway. (See photos accompanying this article)
Many of the maintenance violations appear to be again on trucks used in the commercial zone which are frequently inspected and also on the trailers they’re pulling across the border owned and the responsibility of the US trucking companies that own the trailers. The commercial zone carriers are not responsible for maintenance on these trailing units.
The FMCSA responded to the article in the same tone they’ve responded to all of the opponents frivolous comments to date.
Applicants undergo a rigorous clearance process, and those selected to participate are monitored to ensure they operate safely, said Marissa Padilla, a FMCSA spokeswoman.
Mexican companies in the pilot are subject to the same regulatory standards used to determine whether affiliated U.S. carriers are legally tied, Padilla said.
“In every case raised, FMCSA thoroughly vetted the ties of the Mexican carrier applying to participate and determined it to be a separate legal entity,” Padilla said. “The agency cannot discriminate against one company based on the record of another.”
The trucking regulator’s second-highest official, Bill Bronrott, said in an Aug. 14 letter to Advocates President Jacqueline Gillan that companies in the pilot program have passed exhaustive safety reviews and are operating safely.
“To date, the safety record of the participating carriers demonstrates that the protocols built into the pilot program are a success,” Bronrott said. “FMCSA is confident that the program is working as designed.”
Showing the mindset of the opposition to grasp at straws and come up with some of the most outlandish accusations that have no basis in truth, OOIDA’s Todd Spencer tried to tie the applicants to the program to “reincarnated carriers” which the FMCSA has put in their sights. A reincarnated carrier is a motor carrier who has had their authority pulled by FMCSA and immediately comes back into operation with a new USDOT number and a new name. None of this remotely applies to the Mexican participants in the program. But as it usually is with Todd Spencer and Jim Johnston where the Mexican truckers are concerned, truth be damned.
Spencer made this outlandish comment
Mexican carriers can’t be allowed to use the pilot program “as an opportunity to reincarnate,” said Todd Spencer, executive vice president of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, based in Grain Valley, Missouri, which joined the protests and lawsuit.
“It not only goes against Congress’s intent for the pilot program, but is opposite to the very foundation of our highway safety laws,” Spencer said.
The Teamsters and OOIDA have until Oct. 26 to make a final decision on whether to proceed to the Supreme Court, which is 90 days after the U.S. Court of Appeals rejected on July 26 their request for a rehearing. Should they decide to petition SCOTUS, it’s highly unlikely their appeal would be accepted. But common sense and logic are notably absent from any actions coming from the opponents of Mexican trucking.
35 years in the trucking business and living in Mexico for the past 15 years, make me uniquely qualified to offer my insight and opinion into the Mexican trucking industry and other border issues. A contributor to SiriuxXM Road Dog Channel 106 and to the award winning Lockridge Report, Mexico Trucker Online continues to publish the unvarnished truth about the subjects we cover.