The International Brotherhood of Teamsters plans to push Congress to address an array of trucking-related issues this year and will encourage its own members to run for political office in the next election cycle.
“We’re actively looking for Teamster members to run for office because we feel too many in Congress have never driven a truck or worked on a loading dock,” said Mike Mathis, director of government affairs for the union during a special policy conference held at the union’s headquarters in Washington D.C.
“We’re also going to focusing more of our resources on key state governors, state legislatures and local elections due to all the rancor and gridlock here in the nation’s capitol,” he added.
One of the Teamster’s major priorities this year is to block a DOT effort to institute a pilot program that would allow 100 Mexican carriers to operate on U.S. roads, said Fred McLuckie, deputy director of legislative affairs for the union.
“There are just too many unresolved issues with Mexican carriers, Mexican trucks and drivers who have not met all safety requirements, especially hours-of-service, drug and alcohol, and hazmat background checks,” McLuskie stated. “Security is also an issue. We’ve heard the Transportation Security Administration wants to conduct background checks on Mexican drivers hauling hazmat loads only using U.S. criminal databases as Mexican criminal databases are unreliable. We think that’s a problem.”
“We can’t have national security jeopardized by not requiring Mexican drivers to follow the same safety and security regime as U.S. and Canadian drivers do,” he told FleetOwner. “That’s been our position from the start.”
Other trucking issues the union wants to address include:
- Keeping in place new rules passed as part of last year’s highway funding bill that allow drivers of vehicles 10,000 lb. or less to be paid overtime
- Limiting disqualifying offenses for hazmat drivers, giving them rights for appeal and limiting look-back periods for criminal background checks
- Relief for Teamsters who face suspension or revocation of their CDLs by incurring certain traffic offenses while driving personal vehicles
- Blocking foreign acquisition of U.S. highway infrastructure.
“Foreign ownership of U.S. highway infrastructure sets a bad precedent,” McLuckie noted. “State governments are selling roads built and paid for with taxpayer funds to foreign companies for a temporary economic gain… [but] we don’t know what will happen down the road. It could subject taxpayers to higher tolls and lower toll-booth worker wages.”