Opposition grows against Teamster-backed campaign to alter transportation law

March 29, 2010
A California congressman has joined national leadership groups in opposition to a campaign by the Teamsters union and allied politicians to change longstanding federal transportation law

A California congressman has joined national leadership groups in opposition to a campaign by the Teamsters union and allied politicians to change longstanding federal transportation law.

The union is seeking taxpayer-funded help in organizing port drayage truck drivers by banning independent owner operators from ports. The Teamsters hope to attain this by pushing Congress to change the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act (FAAAA), which prevents state and local jurisdictions from regulating interstate trucking and commerce.

US Rep Gary Miller (R-CA.) released a “Dear Colleague” letter opposing the Teamster effort. “Compliance with air quality standards should be determined on a truck by truck basis without regard to the employee or ownership status of the driver of that truck,” Miller said.

“Our nation’s businesses depend on an efficient, interconnected transportation network that moves commerce fluidly from US marine ports to the network of surface transportation systems of roads and rails,” said Bill Graves, ATA president and chief executive oficer, in expressing gratitude to Miller for his stand. “Federal transportation law protects businesses from a patchwork of local and state regulations that would stifle our nation’s economy.”

The US Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers also oppose any change to the FAAAA. In their letters circulated on Capitol Hill, the organizations say ports already have the ability implement environmental programs that clean the air. “These (proposed changes) are specifically designed to eliminate competition from small independent businesses in favor of companies that the Teamsters believe could be more easily organized,” the letter said.

The American Association of Port Authorities also refused to endorse the Port of Los Angeles position on amending the FAAAA. That organization, which represents more than 140 port authorities, expressly rejected a Port of Los Angeles-backed resolution calling for the amendment of the FAAAA. Instead the association’s Legislative Policy Council passed a resolution stating that ports already have sufficient latitude to ban old, polluting trucks.

The Clean and Sustainable Transportation Coalition—31 groups that represent exporters, importers, and the logistics industries and service providers that support them—also opposes the union effort to change the FAAAA.

Teamsters’ supporters are circulating a letter that repeats several claims from the union and promotes the Port of Los Angeles Clean Truck Program as the model pollution-fighting plan.

“In just one year, the program replaced 6,000 older trucks with clean diesel and alternative energy vehicles … which will reduce diesel particulate pollution by an estimated 70 percent,” the Teamster letter said.

All of this is true, but proves that the Los Angeles program is working without the banning of independent truck owner-operators and the destruction of independent businesses.

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