The day the circus came to town – DC Court of Appeals hears oral arguments from Teamsters & OOIDA

Truksa Mexico
Safe, well maintained trucks from Mexico such as this one are the target of the protectionist opponents of cross border trucking, whose effort to stop the trucks has been an abysmal failure.

Lawyers for OOIDA and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and their allied bogus safety groups such as Public Citizen were in the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, DC, on Thursday, Dec. 6, trying once again to get a court to stop the Mexican cross-border trucking program.

This is not the first time these groups have sought help from a court using frivolous and baseless accusations, but win or lose, it will be their next to the last chance. However the three judge panel, composed of Justices Judith Rogers, Karen LeCraft Henderson and Brett Kavanaugh rule, the losing side will roll the dice and request a hearing before the full court.

OOIDA’s POSITION

The claims being made by OOIDA is that Mexico has failed to institute regulations and enforcement programs that are even remotely similar to those in the United States and because there would be no relevant corresponding reciprocity for U.S. truckers. This of course, has been thoroughly debunked by our research and posting of the relevant rules and regulations Mexico has in place for their transportation industry on this website. And as is often the case when OOIDA speaks about Mexican trucks, well, Jim Johnston and company have a slight problem with the truth. It seems to continuously elude them.

In fact, Mexico has allowed US trucks full reciprocal access to their country since the first Cross Border Demonstration program began in 2007 and Mexico did not ban US trucks when the United States illegally halted access for the Mexicans in 2009.

OOIDA also makes the erroneous claim that Mexico has no reliable system for tracking a driver’s safety record or medical or drug and alcohol history. The Association contends that U.S. law states that the waivers and exemptions the FMCSA is extending to Mexican truckers are not legal.

The US recognizes the Mexican Licencia Federal as the equivalent to the Commercial Drivers License issued by individual states. The difference with the Mexican CDL is that it’s a Federal license. And as OOIDA makes the laughable claim about drug and alcohol testing and tracking in Mexico, it should be noted that in Canada, drug testing is not allowed as it violates the Canadian Human Rights Commission Policy on Alcohol and Drug Testing .

Attorneys for OOIDA also claimed the pilot program offers special treatment to Mexican drivers “who are not willing or able to follow all U.S. laws.” In reality, the Mexican drivers and their carriers are being made to follow all of our rules and then some put in place by Congressional allies of OOIDA and Teamsters and are doing an excellent job of compliance.

You can read their brief statement here

INTERNATIONAL BROTHERHOOD of TEAMSTERS POSITION

We haven’t heard much from Hoffa and his Teamsters for several months on the Mexican truck issue, but Hoffa made up for it today, sending out a presser to media around the country.

What came next from Hoffa is a regurgitation of the same spurious claims he’s been making about the Mexicans for more than 15 years.

“FMCSA continues to claim that we don’t have standing because our members aren’t harmed by a program that opens the border to low-paid truck drivers and dangerous, dirty trucks,” Hoffa said. “That argument doesn’t make sense.

FMCSA in their response to this baseless lawsuit, argued that neither Teamsters nor OOIDA has any standing in the matter because they could not prove injury as a result of the program. Of course, Hoffa came up with a couple of his members who claimed their asthma was aggravated by diesel fumes from the additional handful of trucks participating in the program.

What doesn’t make sense is that Hoffa bases his argument on a fictional account of Mexican truckers by gonzo writer Charles Bowden who was commissioned to write an article he titled NAFTA TRUCKERS, which has since pretty much disappeared from the internet. In the article, Bowden claims he sat down with some on-duty Mexican drivers over lunch and beers and they spilled their guts about drugs and whores, hit and runs being a normal part of trucking in Mexico and other ludicrous and off the wall claims.

Hoffa goes on to make patently false statements such as “The government is flat-out wrong to say that medical standards for truck drivers are higher in Mexico than they are in the United States.”U.S. commercial truck drivers have to follow all U.S. safety regulations, but FMCSA exempts Mexican drivers from some of them.”

Surely Hoffa has read the comparison of medical qualifications of US, Mexican and Canadian drivers. And surely he knows that once again, he’s been caught in a lie. Read them for yourself and decide.

He is, of course ranting about Mexico only requiring color recognition of the color red, while the US requires recognition of Red, Yellow and Green. But at the same time, we all know how the colors are arranged in traffic signals. And Mexico will disqualify a driver for a BMI over 35. We don’t have that yet.

The Teamsters have predicted the program would fail. We predict, based on facts, not fantasy, that the program will continue to it’s successful conclusion.

HERE ARE THE REASONS OOIDA AND TEAMSTERS WILL LOSE THEIR CASE AND WHY IT WILL HAPPEN

The lawsuits claim the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration breaks the following laws:

1. It waives a law that trucks must display certain proof that they meet federal vehicle safety standards.

Actually, one of the requirements of the program is that all vehicles cleared to participate have FHWSA stickers from the manufacturer showing they are in compliance and it is one of the items checked during the PASA.

2. It breaks the law requiring the pilot program to achieve an equivalent level of safety because Mexican drivers don’t have to meet the same physical requirements as U.S. drivers.

With the exception of color identification, this is totally untrue. Mexican drivers must pass in addition to their DOT physicals by a government authorized clinic, the same physicals given by FAA examiners worldwide, a psychological testing regimen and are disqualified from driving if psychological problems are indicated.

3. It breaks the law that Mexico must provide simultaneous and comparable access to U.S. trucks.Mexico cannot do so because of the limited availability of ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel in Mexico.

Again, this is a bald faced deliberate lie by Hoffa and others. Mexico continues to allow US carriers access to their country under the 2007 agreement and these carriers have made more than 2000 trips into the interior of Mexico in the past 5 years, without problems or difficulties. Ultra Low Sulphur fuel is plentiful in the border regions and in the large metropolitan areas throughout Mexico if it’s needed.

4. It breaks the law that the pilot program must include enough participants to be statistically valid.

FMCSA is doing it’s best to attract participants but actions by OOIDA and their allies in the bogus safety groups have used the comment period to submit bogus, repetitive objections against carriers seeking access to the program. In this manner, opponents intimidate possible applicants and slow down the process.  When the time comes, there will be a “statistically valid sample” available to make a final determination. As a matter of fact, that “statistically valid sample” exists at this moment if needed.

5. It doesn’t comply with the environment requirement of the National Environmental Policy Act.

This is perhaps the most ridiculous of the claims, something that has already been settled by the US Supreme Court. 

The US Supreme Court held that the FMCSA had no control of the trucks once the regulations governing the pilot program were passed, and would therefore be unable to act on the findings of an EIS even if it did conduct one.
FMCSA has no statutory authority to impose or enforce emissions controls or to establish environmental requirements unrelated to motor carrier safety.

The Court also found that the passage of the regulations was not sufficiently responsible for the increased pollution caused by the trucks to warrant an EIS.

Justice Clarence Thomas, the Courts most conservative Judge wrote the opinion which you can read here.

No timetable is set to when the panel will return with a decision. Considering the frivolity of the case, it could be before the first of the year. In the meantime, OOIDA has filed yet another lawsuit seeking to stop the Mexicans from coming into the United States.

This action, filed in the same court and given the case number of No. 12-1264, makes the ridiculous claim that Mexican and Canadian drivers must be certified by a US Certified Medical Examiner, a program that is not in place yet. The lawsuit pays scant attention to Canadians, but hits heavily on Mexican drivers, ignoring the fact that their medical certifications are conducted in a government approved facility by government certified doctors.

OOIDA tried to get the DC Court of Appeals to consolidate this lawsuit also but were rebuffed.

We’ll be watching this one too and keep you updated.