Teamsters highlight contradictions in Mexican trucks case

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WASHINGTON -- The Teamsters have apparently caught the Obama Transportation Department in several contradictions in the two sides' continuing fight over the agency's pilot program to let selected Mexican trucks roll on all U.S. roads.

For example, the union's legal brief filed with the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in D.C., says the agency admits the pilot program will produce between 2,800 and 4,100 inspections every year of the Mexican trucks, and it admits those trucks also do not meet U.S. environmental rules.

Yet at the same time, the government argues that the extra pollution from the Mexican trucks will have no impact on U.S. pollution - or U.S. truck drivers who, more than other drivers, are exposed to hazardous fumes on the roads.

The brief, filed last month, is part of the union's long battle with the government over letting trucks from selected Mexican companies roll on all U.S. roads. NAFTA, the controversial U.S.-Mexico-Canada "free trade" treaty, said any Mexican truck could roam anywhere in the U.S.

Thanks to Teamsters lobbying and legislation, Mexican trucks were restricted to a zone within 20 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border - until this "pilot project" and a predecessor under the Bush government.

The Transportation Department's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration "concedes its pilot program cannot prove that Mexico-domiciled carriers are as safe as U.S. carriers. Instead, the program adopts a "presumption that Mexico-domiciled motor carriers are as safe as U.S. motor carriers." FMCSA defends this hypothesis as common practice. But Congress required 'statistically valid findings' demonstrating that a grant of operating authority to Mexico-domiciled motor carriers is as safe as granting authority to U.S. carriers," the Teamsters' brief says.

The Mexican trucks program also does not "comply with several federal requirements governing highway safety and the grant of long-haul operating authority. FMCSA argues these standards should not apply to Mexico-domiciled carriers and the court should adopt the agency's presumption that long-haul trucking by Mexico-domiciled carriers will have no effect on highway safety. These arguments cannot overcome" the law, federal rules and "congressional intent to ensure trucking safety."

It also points out that Teamsters are uniquely affected by the Mexican trucks rolling over all U.S. roads. They're "those most likely to be harmed by highway safety problems," because of long hours on the roads and high exposure to diesel exhaust.

No trial date has been set for the case yet.

Photo: Teamsters members hold signs with a clear message.   Gregory Bull/AP

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  • These folks should go drive a few thousand miles on mexicos roads before making these decisions..... in my experience 80%base of commercial trucks in mexico are below our safety and pollution standards. I,ve only driven apx. 12k mx. miles over the years. The above statement is my subjective experience. The thought of many mx trucks on our highways does not give me any comfort, and besides it stinks for our truckers to have to compete with sub standard wages and equipment. The truckers are already having a tough time financually

    Posted by , 03/30/2012 1:19am (2 years ago)

  • PLEASE KEEP UP THE FIGHT TO PROTECT OUR FAMILIES, JOBS, HEALTH AND LIVES!

    Posted by MICHAEL MCCASKEY, 03/30/2012 12:30am (2 years ago)

  • I am waiting for this program to end and in time it probably will..

    Posted by carhauler, 03/28/2012 12:06pm (2 years ago)

  • Once the public begins to realize how dangerous these trucks are...there will be a huge backlash

    Posted by carhauler, 03/28/2012 12:05pm (2 years ago)

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