LAS VEGAS. In his opening address at the annual American Trucking Assns. (ATA) Management Conference & Exhibition, president & CEO Gov. Bill Graves told a packed hall that the trucking industry is facing a “transformational moment,” which is being shaped by “a national political and economic transformation and a global population transformation.”
“Whether you liked the outcome of the 2008 elections or not, the policy and regulatory reach of the federal government into your business will surely increase over the next 5 to 10 years,” Graves said. “Monday you will be struggling to understand a new OSHA [Occupational Safety and Health Administration] requirement. Tuesday, EPA [Environmental Protection Agency] will be checking one of your facilities for some level of potential contaminates. Wednesday, the FMCSA [Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration] will be auditing to assure the highest level of safety. Thursday, the HHS [Health and Human Services] will be reviewing your contagious diseases action plan…. And Friday the EEOC [Equal Employment Opportunity] will be conducting a survey to make sure that you’re not discriminating against any of your employees.”
Graves told his audience that adapting to this new reality was not an option. “Your failure to do so simply means you cease to exist as a transportation enterprise,” he said.
Concerning the economic transformation, Graves said that it is being driven by “the recession, a significant loss of faith in our financial institutions, and the still-rising unemployment levels.” The need to expand and repair the nation’s infrastructure is of particular urgency, he noted. “American’s long-term competitiveness depends on the quality of our nation’s roads and bridges… but yet when it comes time to take action, both the White House and Democratic leadership [on Capitol Hill] use all their energy and time on health reform and climate change,” Graves said, noting that an estimated $930 billion will be needed over the next five years to fix the infrastructure and voiced support for an increase in fuel taxes.
Graves called for action from both Congress and the White House and voiced frustration that “Congress works on things that it really doesn’t need to at the moment and doesn’t work on things it really needs to.”When it comes to global competition, it has become personal, Graves observed. “In a nutshell, the global competition that we used to talk about in macro-economic terms, has become personal – [it] has developed into one person on this side of the planet fighting for an economic opportunity against a person on the other side of the plant,” he said, noting that the global migration of jobs has become an accepted critical element in business success.