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  • Teamsters and Congress Deliver Costly Protectionism

    Fears that pro-Teamster protectionists in Congress would seek to kill the U.S. Department of Transportation’s “Cross Border Demonstration Project”, that has allowed a carefully selected group of Mexican trucking operators full access to the U.S. road network have been realized. The Supplemental FY 2009 Omnibus spending bill (aka “Porkulus II”) that is currently being rushed through Congress by the Democrats contains sections (SEC. 135) that impose onerous new safety inspection requirements on the Mexican carriers as well as (Sec. 136) directly barring new funding for the USDOT pilot program. Since it is unlikely the White House will veto the legislation, which is a violation of U.S. obligations under NAFTA, it is likely to become law.

    As we reported last week, the superfluous unloading of the Mexican trucks, warehousing and then re-loading of cargoes onto U.S. trucks at the border will no doubt pad the Teamsters’ union dues receipts, but it will also add up to $400 million per year to the price of Mexican imports, which will be passed on to American consumers.

    Posted in Ongoing Priorities, Security [slideshow_deploy]

    6 Responses to Teamsters and Congress Deliver Costly Protectionism

    1. Porter M. Corn Lar says:

      These morons have been throwing "safety" roadblocks in the way of our obligations since 1992 and each time, FMCSA and the SCT have successfully fulfilled the obligations and requirements.

      Hoffa and others claim it is about "safety" and when in their opinion, those concerns have been satisfied, they'll welcome the Mexican carriers; What a lie! It is all about the protectionist xenophobic attitude and fear of a little competition.

      Once, I would like to see our politicians do the right thing instead of doing what they are paid to do by special interests

    2. Penn says:

      There is a good reason unions have not grown since RR was president. They discourage productivity and increase the cost of products due to the extra layer of union leasership. Ask yourself how the unions had 1 billion to donate to Democrats last election; dues taken from memebers, forcefully, and used to advance agendas that have nothing to do with the product they bill.

      Look at all the Americanswho enjoy working in right to work states, without representation. The time for uniosn has come and gone, but the love for power remains.

    3. Ozzy6900, CT says:

      I agree, Penn, that Unions have ruined productivity. I do my bet to perform my job while others "sit on their thumbs" and collect the same pay and benefits as I. It's enough to make you say, "Why should I bother?" But then I revert to my upbringing and how I was taught by my parents and others that lived through the REAL Depression. I was brought up on the rule, "If you don't work, you don't eat".

      I work in a "closed shop" and I have to pay union dues whether I am a member or not (I am a member because at least that way, I get to vote). I watch my dues go to support Democrats and there is nothing I can do about it. I regularly rebuff the blatant lies that come out of our National Office but alas, there are more of them then are of us. Not too many Conservatives belong to unions.

    4. Jesse, Ohio says:

      Sorry boys but Union membership is on the rise. It's time for the blue collar men and women to enjoy a little prosperity for a while. It will be a great day when the Employee Free Choice Act passes.

      Union membership grows despite difficult economy

      By Lawrence Mishel

      New data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics today suggest that unions are making a comeback under very difficult circumstances.

      Union membership rose from 12.1 percent to 12.4 percent last year, continuing a second year of growth. The number of all workers covered by collective bargaining agreements, including those who choose not to be union members, also grew in 2008, from 13.3% to 13.7%, bringing an additional 518,000 workers under union contracts in 2008. Economists generally consider the number of ‘covered’ workers to be more significant.

      This growth is remarkable given the overall decline in employment in 2008 (a loss of 900,000 jobs in the nonunion sector). This is also the first time in the 30 years of this data series that union density rose two years in a row.

      The overall increase reflects higher rates of union density in particular sectors and was NOT driven by higher growth in sectors with a strong union presence already.

      Union density increased in nine of thirteen major industry sectors, led by construction, public administration and education/health. In manufacturing, employment in the union sector rose by 17,000 jobs while the nonunion sector lost over 217,000 jobs. This hardly fits the picture painted by union critics who claim that unions are destroying jobs.

    5. Truckie-D, Midwest U says:

      It's obvious to me that neither the author or those commenting know much about the trucking industry, or the way cross-border operations are handled. So, here's a little education for you.

      First, let me start by saying that cross-border trade is essential to our economy, and those of our neighbors.

      Trucked freight across our southern border takes one of three paths:

      1. Freight is loaded on a trailer in Mexico, brought across the border by a Mexican driver, and unloaded at a warehouse for transshipment north.

      2. Freight is loaded on a trailer in Mexico, brought across the border by a Mexican driver, and the trailer is picked up by a US driver for final delivery.

      3. Freight is loaded on a trailer in Mexico, put on a train, and is transported by rail to a point north of the border, usually within a reasonable distance of it's final destination, where it's then picked up by a US driver for delivery.

      The type of commodity transported, delivery time requirements, and it's final destination largely determine which method is used.

      Now, let's examine each type in a little more detail.

      Our first method requires transloading of freight. This is not necessarily a bad or inefficient thing to do. Often a load of freight needs to be broken down and sent to multiple destinations — and to do this, it has to be transloaded somewhere along the line.

      Our second method is the one most commonly in use today. It's particularly used where loads cross the border in-bond; that is, they don't actually clear customs at the border — customs clearance is done somewhere further on down the road. Depending on the commodity, it can take days to get customs clearance. (Note: when I say the load doesn't "clear customs" at the border, it *doesn't* mean that loads don't get inspected; just that the required customs paperwork hasn't been completed and processed through the system). This is actually a fairly efficient way of handling cross border whole truckload freight. Long delays at truck border crossings are common, and it's far cheaper to pay a Mexican driver to sit and wait than a US driver. Also, since the delays for border crossing and customs clearance can be quite variable, doing a "drop and swap" helps drivers manage their allowable hours of service. A high percentage of cross-border freight uses this method.

      Our third method is similar in most respects to the second, with the addition of a rail journey thrown in. The conditions are similar; however, while rail transport is somewhat cheaper than all-truck movement of freight, it's also slower. The considerations of the second method as regards in-bond movement also apply. The percentage of freight handled this way is less than the first two methods, but is growing.

      While I don't have exact figures as to the percentages of each type of move, in my experience most cross-border freight uses the second and third methods. Shippers and their customers want their freight to move as cheaply and efficiently as possible, and they'll choose whatever method is most cost-effective for their particular operations.

      Now, let's move on to the big issue that's always raised by the groups challenging cross-border trucking — safety.

      This is probably the only area that I'm in total agreement with these groups. The ultimate motive of these groups may actually be protecting US jobs, or whatever, but about safety they're correct. Someone not intimately familiar with truck safety as I am, probably wouldn't recognize most truck safety problems until they got run over. Let's look at some of the reasons:

      A. Mexican drivers are generally poorly (if at all) trained. Those I've spoken to have little or no grasp of many of the areas of knowledge needed for safe operation of a truck. I don't regard even the existing US requirements for licensing as adequate, much less the informal methods practiced in Mexico.

      B. Mexican trucks are largely poorly maintained. To the untrained eye, a truck might look ok, but in reality be a wreck waiting to happen. Even so, I invite you to go down to Laredo, Texas and see for yourself. Pick a good spot where you can observe truck traffic, and you'll see for yourself.

      C. Knowledge of the English language by Mexican drivers is often inadequate or non-existent, but is absolutely essential. (I once had a student from an East European country, who spoke fluent English. However, he had about a two second translation lag, which caused him to have a number of relatively minor collisions (mainly with fixed objects) because he'd miss turns. He ended up getting fired because of that.) Total lack of knowledge is downright dangerous.

      D. Mexican drivers are poorly paid as compared to their US and Canadian counterparts. This provides an incentive for Mexican drivers to augment their income by operating outside the safety regulations, or by other than legal means — in other words, smuggling. Whether it's illegal immigrants, drugs, or whatever, there's a much larger financial pressure. Gangs operating south of the border are also known to take hostages to force such things, even if the driver doesn't want to.

      While congress and many of these other groups may be pro-teamster, the fact is that most cross-border traffic is handled by non-union drivers. NONE of the large truckload carriers, and very few of the small ones are unionized, and they haul the bulk of the freight moving over our southern border.

      I hope I've been able to shed some light on the whole issue of cross-border trucking. Comments and questions are welcome.



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