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Mexican Senate votes overwhelmingly to ratify USMCA

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Trucks line up to cross into the United States at the border in Tijuana, Mexico. In the first quarter of 2019 the two countries did $203 billion in two-way trade, making Mexico the United States' No. 1 commercial partner for the first time, ahead of Canada and China, according to the Mexican Economy Department. (Associated Press: HANS-MAXIMO MUSIELIK)

MEXICO CITY — Mexico’s Senate voted overwhelmingly Wednesday to ratify a new free trade agreement with the United States and Canada, making it the first of the three countries to gain legislative approval.

Mexico’s upper chamber voted 114-4 with three abstentions in favor of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA. It will replace the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA, which U.S. President Donald Trump had threatened to withdraw the United States from if Washington did not get a better deal.

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said in a recorded message that the vote was “very good news.”

“It means foreign investment in Mexico, it means jobs in Mexico, it means guaranteeing trade of the merchandise that we produce in the United States,” he said.

The treaty does not need to be approved by Mexico’s lower house. It is still awaiting consideration by lawmakers in the United States and Canada, however.

“Congratulations to President Lopez Obrador — Mexico voted to ratify the USMCA today by a huge margin. Time for Congress to do the same here!” Trump tweeted.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer in a statement applauded Mexico’s ratification as “a crucial step forward.”

American Trucking Associations President and CEO Chris Spear praised the Mexican Senate’s approval of USMCA.

American Trucking Associations President and CEO Chris Spear lauded Mexico’s action.

“Mexico’s action in ratifying the USMCA is a critical step forward in putting this important trade agreement in place,” Spear said. “Ensuring free and fair trade with our closest neighbors is critical to the trucking industry, which moves $772.3 billion worth of goods across our borders with Mexico and Canada. “Trade with these two countries alone supports nearly 90,000 Americans in trucking-related jobs and generates $12.62 billion in revenue for our industry. We encourage Congress to move forward on ratifying this important agreement so all three nations may continue to share in the benefits that trade creates.”

Ratification of the deal still faces some opposition in the Democrat-controlled U.S. House of Representatives.

One lawmaker pointed directly to partisan politics as the cause of the opposition.

“There’s too much at stake for our farmers to let this opportunity pass by. USMCA will expand economic opportunity in the heartland,” Rep. Darin LaHood, R-Ill., wrote in the Washington Examiner. “However, as things stand, USMCA is being held hostage by career politicians in Washington who are hell-bent on preventing President Trump from getting a win. A delay in approval of this agreement will hit the wallets of family farms in Illinois and across the country.”

The United States is by far Mexico’s biggest export market and its easy passage through the legislature had been expected. The approval came after Trump threatened to impose tariffs on all Mexican goods if López Obrador didn’t reduce the flow of U.S.-bound illegal immigration from Central America, a threat that was later suspended.

The USMCA was hammered out last year by delegations representing then-President Enrique Peña Nieto, of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, and then-President-elect López Obrador, of the left-leaning Morena, ensuring that both the outgoing and the incoming administrations were on board. López Obrador took office Dec. 1, a day after the agreement was signed.

Mexican lawmakers had already executed a series of labor reforms that the U.S. had demanded.

Mexico’s economy ministry said that with Senate approval “Mexico sends a clear message in favor of an open economy and of deepening its economic integration in the region.”

Mexico’s peso strengthened moderately against the dollar to 19.03 Wednesday, though the main factor was the U.S. Federal Reserve signaling that it was prepared to cut interest rates if needed to protect the U.S. economy, according to Gabriela Siller, economic analysis director at Banco BASE.

The United States buys about 80% of Mexican exports, some $358 billion worth last year. In the first quarter of 2019 the two countries did $203 billion in two-way trade, making Mexico the United States’ No. 1 commercial partner for the first time, ahead of Canada and China, according to the Mexican Economy Department.

Sen. Ricardo Monreal, leader of the governing party in the Senate, said the vote was “an important step to diminish the existing uncertainty for North American trade.”

 

 

 

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U.S. Senate introduces bipartisan bill to promote women in trucking

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Women make up 47 percent of the United States’ labor force, yet represent 24 percent of America’s trucking workforce and only about seven percent of drivers.

WASHINGTON, D.C.  U.S. Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Jerry Moran (R-KS), members of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, today introduced the Promoting Women in Trucking Workforce Act.

Currently, women make up 47 percent of the United States’ labor force, yet represent 24 percent of America’s trucking workforce and only about seven percent of drivers. This legislation would support women in the trucking industry and would establish a Women of Trucking Advisory Board.

“In Wisconsin, we make things, and we need to ensure we have a strong workforce to transport our goods to market,” said Senator Baldwin. “Women currently make up less than ten percent of the truck driving workforce, and removing the barriers that get in the way of women pursuing and retaining careers in trucking is key. I’m proud to lead this bipartisan effort with Senator Moran because more job opportunities for Wisconsin women will lead to more economic security for working families.”

“As the trucking industry continues to face a driver shortage, we need to examine new ways to recruit and retain drivers that are delivering Kansas goods across the country,” said Senator Moran. “Because women are substantially underrepresented in the trucking industry, Congress should explore every opportunity to encourage and support the pursuit of careers in trucking by women. I’m proud to introduce this bipartisan and sensible bill with Sen. Baldwin that will lead to new job opportunities for women and increase equality for women already in the trucking industry.”

The Promoting Women in Trucking Workforce would direct the administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to establish a “Women of Trucking Advisory Board.” Under this bill, the board would identify barriers to entry for women in the trucking industry, work across organizations and companies to coordinate formal education and training programs and help identify and establish training and mentorship programs for women in the industry. The legislation also requires the FMCSA Administrator to submit a report to Congress on the board’s findings and recommendations.

This legislation is supported by the Women in Trucking Association and the American Trucking Association.

“By creating an advisory board to utilize the expertise and resources of the Federal Motor Carrier Administration and the members of the board, we can increase the opportunities for women as drivers, technicians, owners, trainers and in other relevant career roles,” said Women in Truck Association President and CEO Ellen Voie. “I look forward to working with you and your office (Sens. Moran and Baldwin) in advancing this bill.”

“On behalf of the American Trucking Association, I write to express thanks and support for the introduction of the Promoting Women in Trucking Workforce Act,” said American Trucking Association President and CEO Chris Spear. “Your (Sens. Moran and Baldwin) thoughtful and timely legislation brings important attention and focus to the advancement of female representation and participation in trucking.”

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David Isaac named TMC Transportation’s Trainer of the Month for September

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DES MOINES, Iowa — David Isaac has been named TMC Transportation’s Trainer of the Month for September.

Isaac started at TMC on Valentine’s Day in 2014. He spent eight years in the military and transitioned into his job at TMC while he was still enlisted.

“TMC was the only flatbed company that stood out to me, especially the company being employee-owned,” he said.

After driving on his own for a year and a half, Isaac decided to give driver training a try.

“The instruction aspect of the job was interesting to me,” he said. “There are multiple ways to do one job, but I wanted to make sure that the end result is what is required of our company standards.”

When it comes to his training style, Isaac takes a supervising role.

“I try to let my trainees do as much as they can on their own, but I keep a close eye on them so I can correct them as needed,” he says. “I feel like this is the best way for them to get a feel of what it will be like once they have their own truck.”

Isaac’s favorite part of training is meeting other drivers and helping to be a part of their success. “It’s great to see new guys do well,” he said, adding that it is great for the company and himself as a driver.

“You can learn even while you’re teaching, whether it be a load you wouldn’t normally or discovering a more efficient way to do things,” he said.

Overall, Isaac is grateful for the opportunities he’s had while driving for TMC.

“From the discipline it takes to do the job to the relationships I have built with my peers, I wouldn’t trade it for anything else,” he said.

Each month a TMC Transportation trainer who demonstrates the outstanding qualities TMC looks for in a trainer is honored. The Trainer of the Month recipient is chosen based on their safety record and the safety performance of their trainees, the number of drivers trained and the retention percentage of those drivers.

For more information, visit www.tmctrans.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Nation

SBTC’s anti-ELD petition stalls, Lamb uses ‘phone call’ to put blame on OOIDA

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Small Business in Transportation Coalition President James Lamb tells viewers his investigators have uncovered evidence that the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association is sabotaging his organization’s efforts to get 100,000 signatures on a petition to ask the White House to immediately suspend the ELD mandate. (Courtesy: SMALL BUSINESS IN TRANSPORTATION COALITION)

In an online editorial we posted August 22, we described the Small Business in Transportation Coalition (SBTC) as positioning itself to be a one-organization wrecking crew targeting the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the electronic logging device mandate.

In particular, SBTC and its president, James Lamb, have been on a tear against electronic logging devices.

(This is the same James Lamb who in early 2018 agreed to settle a probe into his business dealings brought by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, which accused Lamb and several of his businesses of cheating owner-operators out of millions of dollars over the course of several years. Lamb denied the charges, but the FTC is in the process of paying out $900,000 to truckers who the FTC says were scammed.) 

After the FMCSA denied its application asking that carriers with under 50 employees be exempted from the ELD mandate, SBTC asked FMCSA to reconsider the denial. 

With no apparent hope that FMCSA would reverse its decision (remember ELDs were ordered by Congress), Lamb and SBTC have moved up the ladder to Congress and now to the White House.

AN EDITORIAL

Currently, SBTC is asking drivers to sign a petition asking Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and President Donald Trump to immediately suspend the ELD rule.

SBTC says it needs to have 100,000 signatures (it’s not likely to happen) before the White House will respond to the request to suspend the rule (that’s not going to happen).

On October 31, Lamb published an e-mail asking the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association to join SBTC in support of the petition.

Lamb apparently never heard from OOIDA, and with his petition drive stalled at around 30,000, Lamb decided to blame OOIDA for the slowdown and appears to have set out to make his point with an elaborate scheme that he is reporting through his e-mail blasts to the media and others, claiming that OOIDA is sabotaging his petition effort.

In a video released at 5:20 p.m. Central time November 11, Lamb said he had some “disturbing” information regarding the ELD suspension petition.

“We have through our private investigators uncovered that OOIDA has been sabotaging our petition. We hired a private investigator to follow up on leads that we have received regarding possible interferences with our petition and boy, did we find out what’s going on here.

“I’m going to play you the tape the investigators sent me (actually the tape of the phone call made only hours or maybe even minutes before) so you can listen to it yourself and boy is it bad news for Todd Spencer (OOIDA president and CEO) and this woman … at OOIDA.”

That “call” was obviously definitely recorded November 11 because the caller mentioned having to work on the holiday, which was Veterans Day. The man said his name was Mike (he also used the name Michael).

It was easy to tell the call was a set up because the man who identified himself as Mike was obviously and purposely speaking into a recording device and recording the other end of the call from a speaker phone.

(An average observer would likely have thought the call was legitimate and that Lamb’s investigators had worked hard to uncover it, but we rather suspect it was a set up and the tape was handed to him shortly after it was made. Or he might even have been in the room when the “call” was made.

A transcript of the tape shows Mike told the woman at OOIDA he wasn’t a member of OOIDA but had heard about the petition campaign and wanted to know if OOIDA was in support of the petition.

He even claimed he’d never heard of James Lamb.

The woman at OOIDA offered to send Mike information about Lamb.

She asked for his e-mail address and after a long hesitation he gave two: mikeferrili@yahoo.com and mikeferilli@yahoo.com.

E-mails sent to those addresses by The Trucker bounced back as undeliverable. (Surprise, surprise).

Based on the transcript, Mike kept trying to coerce the woman into telling him not to sign the petition (the “call” lasted almost 15 minutes), but not once did she do that, only suggesting that petitions were not effective in getting change in Washington.

Contacting members of Congress is the most effective way, she said, citing an instance when OOIDA and its members contacted a Congressman, contacts that led to him reversing his support of speed limiters.

The woman told Mike that some members of OOIDA had signed the petition.

Mike kept on and on, obviously and in the opinion of this writer hoping the woman would tell him not to sign the petition, but the woman said absolutely nothing to discourage drivers from signing the petition.

At one point, the woman reminded Mike that OOIDA had been fighting against ELDs and their predecessors since 1978.

After the tape of the telephone “call” ended on his video, Lamb reiterated that OOIDA had done everything in its power to keep truckers from signing the petition.

“Mr. Spencer it looks like we have a problem. Our legal team (the same one that handed Lamb the tape of the supposed phone call) is going to be reviewing this and you are going to have some explaining to do to a judge,” he said.

We too, have a problem, and it’s with Mr. Lamb trying to lay the blame for his failure directly on someone else.

We call on Mr. Lamb and his organization to get off his anti-ELD horse.

That horse is in the barn, sir, and it’s not coming out.

If you are as powerful as you say you are, turn that power into doing something about the real issues that plague trucking today, matters such as driver pay, the lack of safe parking and driver detention, just to name a few.

OOIDA and many others in the trucking industry are really concerned about those issues.

So should you be.

 

 

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