ATA and TCA explore renewed relationship

The American Trucking Associations and the Truckload Carriers Association have agreed to discuss ways to restore a close relationship that existed prior to a bitter fight that culminated two years ago in a narrow vote by TCA members to reject integration into ATA. The TCA board voted unanimously last month to set up committees as necessary to explore a renewed affiliation with ATA.

The TCA board vote followed a speech by ATA Chairman David McCorkle, who is head of McCorkle Truck Lines in Oklahoma City and also a TCA member. The effort began late last year. “David [McCorkle] approached me to see if there was a way to get the federation back functioning together in a more direct manner,” says U.S Xpress Co-Chairman Pat Quinn, who ended his term as TCA chairman last month.

That discussion led to a meeting in mid-February between the elected and staff leaders of the two organizations. The result was an agreement to appoint a task force consisting of members from both sides to explore options and identify issues for resolution.

The discussions definitely would not lead to a merger of the two organizations, Quinn says. TCA leaders also anticipate that regardless of what happens the two associations’ primary mission will remain complementary with ATA continuing to focus on lobbying and advocacy and TCA continuing to focus on education and training.

These developments aren’t really the first steps toward a closer relationship, however, says TCA President Robert Hirsch. Throughout 2001 there had been considerable progress in getting past the tension between the two staffs. One example, he says, is ATA’s request early last year that TCA manage the North American Transportation Management Institute.

In a speech to TCA members later during the annual meeting, ATA President William Canary promised that the two associations would remain separate and independent. The most contentious issue in the integration fight two years ago was ATA’s proposal to require that TCA members join ATA. “That will never happen again,” Canary said.

Canary said the challenges presented by the insurance crisis, homeland security and proposals for interstate tolls required a strong federation. “Whatever happened in the past is irrelevant; our moment is now,” he said.