Teamsters protest cross-border trucking

Published December, 18 2007

About a hundred Teamsters rallied Dec. 5 against President Bush’s cross-border trucking program with Mexico. The union plans another rally when its court case against the program is heard in February.

Led by union President James Hoffa, the Teamsters picketed the Otay Mesa border crossing near San Diego. Joining them were a handful of members of the striking Writers Guild of America and Missouri legislator Chris Koster, who after two years in the state Senate as a Republican is running for Missouri attorney general as a Democrat with Teamsters backing.

The Teamsters argue that Mexico’s safety standards are below U.S. standards and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration program does not ensure that Mexican participants meet U.S. qualifications.

“You can’t take ten of the safest trucks in Mexico and drive them around the U.S. and then say it’s safe,” said Teamsters spokeswoman Leslie Miller. “You need a reasonable amount of participants to get a valid result.”

Congress voted overwhelmingly to ban funding for the project earlier this year in the 2008 transportation bill. That language was retained in the conference bill passed later by the House; the Senate hasn’t voted on it yet. President Bush has threatened a veto.

Ten Mexican carriers and four American carriers have been authorized for cross-border operations as of Dec. 7. The FMCSA has notified an additional 37 Mexican carriers that they passed pre-authorization safety audits.