Teamsters sue DOT to block FMCSA’s cross-border trucking expansion

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Updated Mar 14, 2015

mexicoThe Teamsters Union announced this week it has filed a lawsuit against the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s recent move to expand its cross-border trucking program with Mexico.

The agency announced in January that it was opening the U.S. operating authority application process to all Mexican carriers, partly as a measure to bring the U.S. into compliance with provisions in the North American Free Trade Agreement.

The Teamsters’ lawsuit alleges that the data used by FMCSA in its report to Congress — on which it based its decision to open the border to all Mexican-domiciled carriers — “is arbitrary and capricious in light of the admitted lack of significant data” gleaned during the agency’s three-year cross-border pilot program.

The Teamsters’ claims about the data quality somewhat align with conclusions made by the DOT Inspector General, who issued a report in December that said FMCSA’s data was insufficient given the low number of Mexican carrier participants and the lack of quality inspection data.

The OIG said in its report that the conclusions drawn from its pilot program data — that Mexican carriers are just as safe as U.S. carriers — were invalid, given the suspect data.

Teamsters’ President Jim Hoffa calls the agency’s decision to open the border “disappointing.”

“The Teamsters Union will continue to fight for highway safety; the safety of our roads cannot be compromised based on this failed program,” he said.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association has also voiced its opposition to the agency’s move, calling it a political ploy that would put unsafe operators on U.S. highways.

The American Trucking Associations has taken a mostly neutral stance, saying it’s fine with the border opening as long as Mexican carriers and drivers abide by U.S. safety regulations.