Colorado truck drivers are going to be feeling the pinch in their wallets soon because of the Bush regime's alliance with the mega-transnational corporations aiming to crush the American middle and working classes. And it maybe starting on ... Labor Day.
By next week, there may very well be Mexican trucks hauling Chinese-made products into Colorado. The American trucker will then be an 'endangered species'. Wal-Mart, for example, can then get its cheap Chinese goods imported into a Mexican port, put on Mexican trucks, and then it's straight to distribution centers inside the U.S. That means American longshoreman cut out, Teamsters cut out, middle class prosperity cut out -- but bigger profits for Wal-Mart. Of course, the benefit to you, Bush and the transnational corporations will say, is yet even cheaper priced consumer products.
Lower wages, lower benefits for American truck drivers is sure to follow -- in other words, the steady decline of this nation's middle class. But, hey, it's okay because that plastic trash can you want to buy will be twenty-five cents cheaper, right?
Starting this weekend, the U.S. Department of Transportation will allow Mexican trucks and truck drivers to cross the border and haul anywhere in the country. American drivers aren't just concerned about safety; they're also concerned about their bottom line. ...
... Hundreds of trucks pass through from California each and every day. At the first place Mexican drivers would stop once they cross into Nevada, drivers there say this political promise could end up being a disaster.
The lonely life on the open road could be coming to a screeching halt for truck driver Eric Oliver. "It's like a free pass."
Oliver is upset at new rules allowing Mexican truck drivers to carry heavy loads anywhere in the U.S. His main concern is safety. "If you've worked down there, you know, you've seen those trucks that are running down there by the border. Pieces falling off of them and stuff like that. That's just creating hazards for us out here on the road."
It's been seven years on the road for Oliver. He has to get medical check-ups, health screenings and he faces a strict cap on how long he can work.
"We have to get medical done every two years. I don't know what they do down there," said Oliver.
The federal government promises a 37-point inspection for the Mexican trucks, and personal interviews with drivers, but only for the pilot program. After that, it's back to random checks. Oliver is sure questionable trucks and sketchy wheelmen will slip through the cracks.
"You get one of these things rolling around at 80,000 pounds doing 70 miles-an-hour on the freeways here in Nevada, or California at 55 miles-per-hour, one of them has a heart attack and crashes, you're going to have a big mess," said Oliver.
The new rules are a promise made under NAFTA in the early 1990s. That trade agreement was supposed to open the borders to commerce, but now it may cut off Oliver from his future on the road.
"All that's doing to us is cutting us, because the Mexican trucking companies will do it for dollars less. Not pennies less, we're talking dollars less," he said.
Oliver says right now the industry pays $1.35 per mile -- a paycheck that will slip away with more Mexican competition.
"A $1.35 is bare minimum to make a living. That's still -- keep your truck on the road, keep food in your gut and hopefully pay some bills at home."
Mexican drivers will have to understand English and follow all rules for documentation and safety. But inspectors will have to take the driver at his word nearly each and every time.
he cross-border program with Mexico is apparently starting sooner rather than later.
According to media reports, officials within the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration told members of the Teamsters union the border would open Saturday, Sept. 1.
Requests from Land Line for confirmation on the Teamster’s claim remained unanswered Thursday afternoon by FMCSA.
The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association expressed outrage in response to learning the U.S. Department of Transportation plans to begin allowing Mexican trucks to bring cargo into the United States, against the will of the public and their nationally elected representatives.
“We are stunned at the contempt of the Administration toward the rule of law,” said Todd Spencer, executive vice president of OOIDA. “And it’s also a slap in the face of every American, hard-working trucker.
“They are determined to open our highways to Mexico-domiciled trucking companies and truck drivers regardless of the concerns that have been raised by Congress and the American people.”
The International Brotherhood of Teamsters has sued to block Mexican trucks from operating freely throughout the United States, something the Bush administration may allow as soon as Saturday.
In federal court in San Francisco, the Teamsters said an emergency injunction is needed. They said government lawyers reported that the Transportation Department will issue the first of 100 permits to Mexican trucking firms Saturday.
Congress blocked the open-border provisions mandated by the North American Free Trade Agreement until the Transportation Department could prove it could adequately enforce safety.
A preliminary Aug. 6 report from the inspector general credited the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration with boosting the number of border inspectors from 13 in 1998 to 254 last year. But it said that the agency lacks reliable data for tracking truckers' convictions.
On Aug. 17, the government posted a Federal Register notice indicating it was going to proceed with allowing Mexican trucks beyond a 25-mile commercial zone along the border. The Teamsters argued the agency lacked valid data and snubbed about 2,300 public comments.