The Teamsters and OOIDA are challenging a federal decision to allow Mexican motor carriers to haul loads past the border regions, according to a report on JOC.com.
Some industry analysts are saying that even if the legal challenges fail, the impact of the new program will be negligible.
The majority of U.S.-Mexico cross-border trade is shuttled over the border region, and interest from Mexican trucking companies in hauling goods farther inland and back to Mexico has received scant interest. To date, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has received just four applications from Mexican trucking firms after the agency announced in January that Mexican drivers could apply to move loads into the U.S. and back to their home country. The move brought the United States into compliance with the North American Free Trade Agreement that’s been in effect for two decades.
The four applications is a paltry sum compared to the number of qualified motor carriers in Mexico that could participate, given the program is open to all interested parties. It’s also considerably less than the 15 motor carriers that previously participated in a FMCSA three-year pilot — a pilot meant to test the stability of the very program now in dispute.
Nevertheless, the Teamsters Union has refused to back down. The International Brotherhood of Teamsters, alongside the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety and the Truck Safety Coalition, filed a joint suit March 10 against the U.S. Department of Transportation, aiming to keep Mexican trucks out.
OOIDA has since joined the suit. The groups contend in the suit that the data gleaned from the three-year FMCSA study used to support the new program “is arbitrary and capricious in light of the admitted lack of significant data.” The suit cites the DOT Inspector General Calvin Scovel’s own assessment of the three-year pilot study, in which he concluded the number of participating carriers was insufficient to “determine with confidence” the potential of a future cross-border program.
FMCSA decided to pursue the program in spite of the evidence on hand, said Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa.
“I am outraged that the Department of Transportation has chosen to ignore the findings of the DOT inspector general and is moving forward with a plan to open the border to Mexican trucks in the coming months,” Hoffa said in a statement shortly after the FMCSA announced the program was open to applicants in January.
Hoffa said the cross-border program not only ignores statutory and regulatory requirements, but also flies in the face of common sense.
“One thing was made clear in the IG’s report – the pilot program was a failure,” Hoffa said. “Allowing untested Mexican trucks to travel our highways is a mistake of the highest order and it’s the driving public that will be put at risk by the DOT’s rash decision.”