ARLINGTON, Va. — A California congressman has joined a number of national leadership groups in a groundswell of opposition to a campaign by the Teamsters union and allied politicians to change longstanding federal transportation law, the American Trucking Associations said in a news release Friday.
The union is seeking taxpayer-funded help in organizing port drayage truck drivers by banning independent owner operators from ports, according to ATA. The Teamsters also 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.
U.S. Rep. Gary Miller this week 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,” Rep. Miller said. “Industry stakeholders, including many small businesses, have shown that they are taking a proactive approach to meeting environmental goals as they have made significant investments in clean equipment. It is important that we do not get distracted by unnecessary provisions and mandates that are not related to environmental goals and could have long term, negative consequences on interstate commerce.”
The ATA has been in a legal dispute with the Port of Los Angeles over provisions in its Clean Truck Program which allow access only to approved trucking companies.
“Our nation’s businesses depend on an efficient, interconnected transportation network that moves commerce fluidly from U.S. marine ports to the network of surface transportation systems of roads and rails,” ATA President and CEO Bill Graves said in expressing gratitude to Rep. 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 U.S. 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,” said 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. “These changes, if enacted, could unfairly force out of the industry many hard working small businesses responsible for moving much of the nation’s international commerce,” said a letter signed by the Coalition.
Teamsters’ supporters are circulating a letter that repeats several false claims from the union and promotes the Port of Los Angeles Clean Truck Program as the model pollution-fighting plan, ATA says.
“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 L.A. program is working without the banning of independent truck owner-operators and the destruction of independent businesses, ATA insists, though the trucking group disputes a number of other union claims that current federal law and related legal actions are hampering the port’s attempt to improve air quality.
The Teamsters did not reply immediately to a request for comment.
Kevin Jones of The Trucker staff can be reached for comment at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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