Did you know that in a March meeting with Mexico’s President Felipe Calderón, Obama agreed to opening the southern border to Mexican trucks, again? By doing so he has defied the unions and American truckers, and has passed over Congress on the ever so controversial cross-border issue with Mexico. Obama has also screwed the American taxpayers, as in the deal with Mexico that he agreed to, Americans will be paying for the Electronic On-Board Recorders (EOBR) for the Mexican trucks.
An EOBR is an electronic device attached to a commercial motor vehicle, which is used to record the amount of time a vehicle is being driven. This device however is not fail proof by any means, it requires the driver to manually input duty status changes. This is not a requirement yet for all American trucks (a few companies do use this), but it will be a mandate for all trucks on the roads in a couple of years.
In 1995, the US and Mexico started a pilot program to allow Mexican trucks to travel throughout the U.S. delivering loads brought in from Mexico. The U.S. trucks were allowed to do the same in Mexico, but safety and security concerns spurred the United States to bar Mexican trucks on U.S. roadways. In 2009, Obama signed an omnibus appropriations bill which included a provision to end the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) trucking project with Mexico. In retaliation, the Mexican government placed an arguable $2.5 billion in tariffs on a variety of U.S. goods.
U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk should have investigated the moot tariffs when Mexico first placed them. But sadly, he and our government, even though repeatedly being asked to investigate these so-called tariffs, refused, abided to, and paid the tariffs. Now, 16 years later the safety and security concerns still exist, but Obama agreed to allow the Mexican trucks back into the U.S.
This cross-border deal will only make more jobs scarce. Obama and his cronies are touting that this is a good deal which will open more freight lanes to American truckers, as they will be able to deliver loads in Mexico, even though American truck drivers operating near the U.S.-Mexico border are being warned of increasing violence among warring drug cartels and told to stay on alert against attacks or hijackings. How many do you suppose will even want to go and drive in Mexico?
In a recent article, Steve Russell, chief executive officer of Indianapolis-based Celadon Group Inc., which serves the U.S., Canada and Mexico, said, “The theory behind cross-border trucking is that one tractor would replace three.” That sounds to me like it will remove jobs from the trucking industry, not make more jobs.
It’s bad enough that this deal takes away jobs and freight from American truck drivers, but it is completely outrageous that these same American truckers and you, the taxpayer, have to pay for the equipment for another country’s trucks so that they can be in somewhat compliance with American safety standards and regulations. This is not right at all and the question of “why” still needs to be explained. Anne Ferro, head of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration tried to explain why at the annual meeting of the Truckload Carriers Association last month. She explained that under the North American Free Trade Agreement, the U.S. cannot require Mexican carriers to do anything that U.S. carriers are not required to do, but the agency still must provide a way to monitor those carriers for compliance with both the hours of service rules and the cabotage rules that restrict freight hauling between points in the U.S.
Everyone needs to call their senators and representatives to demand they kill this deal now. You can call the United States Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121, provide the operator with your home zip code and they will connect you directly with the Senate office you request.
If you, as a US truck driver, value your job, then you must contact your senators and representatives and explain to them why this is not a good idea. It is ironic that the DOT is always talking about how their number one priority is safety; then they do this.