Teamsters oppose FMCSA nominee Ferro

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The Teamsters on Friday, June 5, announced its opposition to the nomination of Anne Ferro as administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration because of her support for the current hours-of-service rules.

Teamsters President Jim Hoffa told President Obama in a letter that Ferro is the wrong person to head FMCSA because of her “trucking-industry party line.” Ferro, Maryland’s Motor Vehicle Administrator between 1997 and 2003, is currently president of the Maryland Motor Truck Association.

“We cannot support a candidate who represents the Bush administration ‘status quo’ rather than embracing your call for change,” Hoffa wrote in the letter.

The Teamsters, Public Citizen, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, and the Truck Safety Coalition asked an appeals court March 9 to review the latest hours-of-service rules. The groups also sent a letter to U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood asking him to begin work on a new regulation.

FMCSA’s final rule, published Nov. 19 in the Federal Register, adopted the provisions of its Dec. 17, 2007, interim final rule on the hours rules. The agency issued the December 2007 IFR to hold current regulations in place pending a reconsideration ordered by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, which twice has struck down the Bush administration’s hours-of-service rules on various grounds.

Under the final rule, commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers may continue to drive up to 11 hours within a 14-hour nonextendable window from the start of the workday, following at least 10 consecutive hours off duty. And motor carriers and drivers may continue to restart calculations of the weekly on-duty limits after the driver has at least 34 consecutive hours off duty. The 11-hour and 34-hour rules were at the heart of Public Citizen’s second challenge to the hours rules.

The Bush administration’s Nov. 19 publication of the hours rules came in just under the wire in order to avoid the moratorium on rules declared by the Obama administration, as well as possible congressional action to negate them.

FMCSA took action on the last full working day before Obama’s inauguration to ensure that the new administration would not be able to easily undo the final hours regulations. In a Jan. 16 letter to the safety advocacy groups, FMCSA stood by its decisions to retain the 34-hour restart and 11 hours of driving, saying that there had been ample scientific evidence backing the safety of the regulations.

The four safety advocacy groups, which on Dec. 18 had filed a petition for reconsideration, had 60 days after the Jan. 16 denial to file for a review of the decision by the D.C. appeals court. The Obama administration also could initiate its own reconsideration of the hours rules, but it would have to start over from the beginning with a notice of proposed rulemaking.