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Trump signs USMCA into law; ATA hails agreement, commends president



Trump signs usmca into law; ata hails agreement, commends president
President Donald Trump gives a thumbs up after signing a new North American trade agreement with Canada and Mexico, during an event at the White House Wednesday. Trump's impeachment trial is shifting to questions from senators, a pivotal juncture as Republicans lack the votes to block witnesses and face a potential setback in their hope of ending the trial with a quick acquittal. (Associated Press: EVAN VUCCI)

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump Wednesday signed into law a major rewrite of the rules of trade with Canada and Mexico.

Trump said the new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) replaces what he calls the “nightmare” of a Clinton-area agreement that governed trade among the three countries.

Trump made renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) a priority during his 2016 campaign.

American Trucking Associations leaders hailed the signing here ATA President and CEO Chris Spear and 12 professional truck drivers from ATA member companies were in attendance.

“Today’s signing ceremony is the beginning of the next phase in our strong and productive relationship with Mexico and Canada,” said ATA President and CEO Chris Spear. “ATA and our members are proud to have been engaged throughout the process, attending the ministerial conferences and working with the administration and our trucking partners in Canada and Mexico to shape this final outcome. We commend President Trump for making this a top priority of his presidency and seeing it through to completion.”

Trump said the agreement encouraged factories to leave the United States and relocate south of the border to take advantage of low-wage Mexican labor.

He says the new deal with Canada and Mexico will keep jobs, wealth and growth in America.

Experts say the impact will be modest, given that Canada and Mexico already represent the top two export markets for U.S. goods.

But the pact Trump signed Wednesday, along with a “phase one” agreement with China, dials down trade tensions that contributed to slowing economic growth globally.

Trump has been eager to show off a big policy win during his impeachment trial by signing the new trade agreement into law.

Spear said the new agreement is projected to increase annual U.S. exports to Canada and Mexico by a combined $33 billion above the current NAFTA baseline. The agreement is also expected to increase U.S. GDP by $68 billion, stimulating broad sectors of the economy that the trucking industry serves, like agriculture and manufacturing.

The following professional truck drivers—members of America’s Road Team—were in attendance, representing a combined 33.2 million safe-driving miles throughout their collective careers: Ina Daly, XPO Logistics; Steve Fields, YRC Freight; David Green, Werner Enterprises;

Rhonda Hartman, Old Dominion Freight Line; John Lex, Walmart Transportation; Don Logan, FedEx Freight; Charlton Paul, UPS Freight; Dion Saiz, FedEx Freight; Russ Simpson, Holland; Dee Sova, Prime Inc.; Tony Spero, ABF Freight System and Derrick Whittle, Cargo Transporters

In 2018, trucks moved more than $770 billion worth of goods between the U.S., Canada and Mexico, and transnational trade between the three countries supported roughly 90,000 U.S. jobs in the trucking industry—including 60,000 truck drivers. Those figures should only increase as USMCA is implemented.

“Trucks move 70% of all freight in the U.S. and 76% of the freight that moves between the U.S. and our closest neighbors, so we expect trucking will see significant benefits from USMCA as the agreement boosts exports to Canada and Mexico and generates a measurable increase in our gross domestic product in the years ahead,” ATA Chief Economist and Senior Vice President of International Trade Policy and Cross-Border Operations Bob Costello. “We look forward to working with leaders in all three countries to ensure smooth enactment of USMCA.”

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. MrBigR504

    February 2, 2020 at 4:59 am

    Good ol’ATA is somehow always at Trump’s photo shoots!

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Mack Trucks laying off 305 workers at Macungie Township plant



Mack trucks laying off 305 workers at macungie township plant
A Mack Trucks spokesperson said the company operates in a cyclical market and after two years of extremely high volumes there has been reduced market demands. Sales of Mack Trucks in October have fallen far below the monthly average for 2019. (Courtesy: MACK TRUCKS)

MACUNGIE, Pa. — Mack Trucks plans to lay off 305 employees at its assembly plant north of Philadelphia, the company said Wednesday.

Mack blamed the layoffs at its Lower Macungie Township plant on a downturn in the heavy-duty truck market. They will take effect at the end of February, The Morning Call of Allentown reported. The cuts represent about 13% of the plant’s payroll.

“We regret having to take this action, but we operate in a cyclical market, and after two years of extremely high volumes, we have to adapt to reduced market demand,” said Mack spokesman Christopher Heffner.

Employees, most of whom belong to the auto workers union, were informed of the news Wednesday.

The cuts were expected after Mack said last month that it would need to slow production to cope with reduced demand. Mack expects the North American truck market to be down nearly 30% this year

Heffner said outplacement support meetings will be provided for all affected employees, who also will receive information about services available through the Private Industry Council and Pennsylvania CareerLink.

United Auto Workers Local 677, which represents most of the plant’s employees, did not immediately comment.

But the planned layoff was expected, after Mack informed employees in December that it would need to adjust the plant’s build rate to align with reduced demand. The last significant layoff at the Mack plant came in early 2016, when the company laid off about 400 of the facility’s then-1,850 workers as demand slowed.

Through November of 2019, sales of Mack Trucks in the United States had totaled 18,127, an increase of 14.8% over sales of 15,793 during the first 11 months of 2018, according to data provided by Wards Intelligence.

But sales in October and November were 1,224 and 1,185, respectively, well below the average monthly sales of 1,647 during 2019.

The announcement about the layoffs came some three months after almost 3,600 United Auto Workers members walked off the job for the first time in 35 years on October 12 at six Mack facilities in Pennsylvania, Maryland and Florida.

According to the official news release on the UAW’s website, the strike is to protest unfair pay, compensation and benefits for workers and their families.

“UAW members get up every day and put in long, hard hours of work from designing to building Mack trucks,” said Ray Curry, secretary-treasurer of the UAW and director of the heavy truck department, in the official statement when the workers went on strike. “UAW members carry on their shoulders the profits of Mack and they are simply asking for dignity, fair pay and job protections.”

Two months later, Mack Trucks announced that members of the United Auto Workers union ratified a new four-year collective bargaining agreement with the company that covers the union employees.


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Early morning crash on Pennsylvania Turnpike leaves 5 dead, 60 injured



Early morning crash on pennsylvania turnpike leaves 5 dead, 60 injured
The Sunday morning accident on the Pennsylvania Turnpike was said to have been a “chain reaction” following a bus losing control and rolling over. (Courtesy: FOX29 PHILADELPHIA)

MOUNT PLEASANT, Pa. ­– A crash on the Pennsylvania Turnpike early Sunday morning has left five people dead and about 60 injured when a loaded bus went out of control on a hill and rolled over. According to published reports, this incident set off a chain reaction that involved three tractor-trailers and a passenger car.

WTAE in Pittsburgh reports that all five victims killed have been identified by the Westmoreland County coroner. Among them are the bus driver, Shuang Qing Feng, 58, of Flushing, New York and two bus passengers, Eileen Zelis Aria, 35, of Bronx, New York and Jaremy Vazquez, a 9-year-old girl from Brooklyn, New York.

Two UPS drivers – Daniel Kepner, 53, and Dennis Kehler, 48 – were among the people who died in the crash, the company confirmed Sunday night. Both were driving together in a tractor-trailer out of Harrisburg, Pa., according to a UPS spokeswoman.

Those injured ranged in age from 7 to 67. All are all expected to survive, though two patients remain in critical condition, authorities and hospital officials said Sunday afternoon. The crash, which happened at 3:40 a.m. on Sunday on a mountainous and rural stretch of the interstate about 30 miles east of Pittsburgh, shut down the highway in both directions before it reopened Sunday evening.

The tour bus, operated by a New Jersey-based company called Z & D Tours, was traveling from Rockaway, New Jersey, to Cincinnati, Ohio, Pennsylvania State Police spokesman Stephen Limani said.

He said the bus was traveling downhill on a curve, careened up an embankment and rolled over. Two tractor-trailers then struck the bus. A third tractor-trailer then crashed into those trucks. A passenger car was also involved in the pile-up.

“I haven’t personally witnessed a crash of this magnitude in 20 years,” Pennsylvania Turnpike spokesman Carl DeFebo told WTAE, calling it the worst accident in his decades-long tenure with the turnpike.

Reports from local media state that the victims included students and people returning from visiting family in New York City. Many traveling on the bus were from outside the United States, Limani said, some of whom do not speak English and who lost their luggage and passports in the wreckage.

Limani said the Red Cross was working with those patients to find housing and resources. Authorities brought in translators to assist with the investigation and medical treatment, and to help victims reconnect with loved ones.

Exactly what caused the crash remains unknown, and Limani said it could take weeks or months to determine. The National Transportation Safety Board announced Sunday that it dispatched a team of more than a dozen to investigate.

Officials said it was too early to determine if weather was a factor in the crash, but there were eyewitness reports of precipitation in the area.

Angela Maynard, a tractor-trailer driver from Kentucky, said the roads were wet from snow but not especially icy. Maynard was traveling eastbound on the turnpike when she came upon the crash site and called 911.

“It was horrible,” she told The Tribune-Review. She saw lots of smoke but no fire. She and her co-driver found one person trapped in their truck and another lying on the ground.

More than 90 miles of the Pennsylvania Turnpike, from Stanton to Breezewood, remained closed in the westbound direction. Local fire and emergency medical crews are on scene, along with a hazardous material company cleaning up fuel and other materials.

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California owner-operators granted temporary reprieve from AB5



Senators offer bill to limit heavy truck speeds to 65 mph
California owner-operators will be exempt from enforcement of AB5 law pending a January 13 hearing. (The Trucker file photo)

SACRAMENTO — Owner-operators and the carriers who contract with them received a reprieve late on December 31 when U.S. District Court Judge Robert Benitez issued a temporary restraining order preventing California from enforcing the state’s Assembly Bill 5 (AB5) law in respect to motor carriers.  The law had been scheduled to go into effect just hours after the order was issued.

AB5, intended to protect employers from classifying employees as independent contractors for the employers’ benefit, was challenged by the California Trucking Association (CTA) in a November lawsuit in which the association claimed 70,000 owner-operators in the trucking industry would be adversely impacted should the law be enforced. Specifically, the lawsuit claimed the state law directly conflicted with the FMCSA, the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act of 1994 and the supremacy and commerce clauses of the U.S. Constitution.

AB5 included provisions for an “ABC test” to determine whether an individual would be classified as an independent contractor or an employee of a company. The “B” test prohibited companies from using independent contractors unless the worker performed work “outside the usual course of the hiring entity’s business.” In other words, AB5 would prohibit a trucking company that employs drivers from contracting with independent owner-operators as contracted individuals would perform the same type of work as the company’s regular employees.

On December 24, CTA filed for the temporary restraining order, intended to prevent California from enforcing AB5 as related to motor carriers operating in the state. The original lawsuit is scheduled for a hearing on January 13.

In granting the temporary restraining order, Judge Benitez issued a five-page decision in which he wrote that CTA had suitably satisfied the requirements of arguing its original lawsuit was “likely to succeed on the merits” and plaintiffs would be “likely to suffer irreparable harm in the absence of relief.” Several lawsuits had been filed against AB5 from various sectors of the transportation industry, leaving in question whether the law would be enforceable in the form approved by the California legislature and signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom in September.

In the leadup to initiation of AB5, in late 2019, carriers began reducing contracting activities with owner-operators.  Some carriers had ceased all work through independent drivers, while others recommended California-based owner-operators move out-of-state or take on the status of company employees.

Benitez noted in his decision, “Without significantly transforming their operations to treat independent contractor drivers as employees…they face the risk of governmental enforcement actions, as well as criminal and civil penalties.”

Judge Benitez will also hear CTA’s case for a longer injunction Monday, January 13, in his courtroom in the Southern District of California. Defendants in the lawsuit include California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and The International Brotherhood of Teamsters, which has intervened in the case. For two weeks, independent truck drivers in California are protected from the state’s enforcement of AB5 in their industry. Whether an additional extension is granted is dependent on Judge Benitez’s ruling, expected shortly after the January 13 hearing.

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