Pilot program for Mexican truckers worries U.S. drivers

sportsou

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Truck driver Freddy Harbison made $75,000 a year working at a paper mill in Louisville, Ky. But he lost his job after the company embraced cheaper, foreign labor.

Now making about $40,000 a year driving a tractor-trailer, Harbison said he's worried that his current job is in jeopardy.

The Bush administration has permitted a one-year pilot program allowing Mexican trucking companies to haul freight deeper into the United States.

The idea is causing concern among many truckers. They say the act will eliminate jobs and increase safety concerns.

Trucking lobby groups say the plan is a step forward in free trade between the countries.

Harbison, 37, of Louisville, said if the pilot program is successful, the idea might put him out of a job as companies increasingly turn to trucking companies south of the border. He voiced his concerns Monday during a pit stop at the Pilot Truck Stop in Nitro.

Harbison spends five days a week on the road. He only gets to see his family on the weekends.

"What happened before just killed my lifestyle," Harbison said of losing his old job. "Even if it happens again, I can't do anything about it. It just sucks."

Jan Vineyard, president of the West Virginia Motor Truck Association, said the organization supports the effort.

The state's chapter of the Motor Truck Association was merged in October with the West Virginia Oil Marketers and Grocers Association, which Vineyard has led for years.

The trucking association has been a supporter of North American Free Trade Agreement since its implementation.

Under the 1993 legislation, Mexico was promised access to all U.S highways, but ongoing lawsuits in both countries have stalled the idea.

"This has been a long awaited plan to implement safe and efficient flow of cargo across the borders," Vineyard said. "It's a limited plan, but we're going to do all we can to make sure this is a level playing field."

Vineyard said $2.5 billion in trade flows between Canada, the United States and Mexico each day. Trucks carry about 75 percent of that, she said.

Tractor-trailer driver Todd Wallace has been working on the road for six years. The Ohio native said doesn't support the idea of allowing Mexican trucking companies more access in the United States, but said he feels powerless to do something about it.

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Jayhawk

Well-Known Member
Tractor-trailer driver Todd Wallace has been working on the road for six years. The Ohio native said doesn't support the idea of allowing Mexican trucking companies more access in the United States, but said he feels powerless to do something about it.
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Something can be done about it. This is a one year program. As drivers, we need to let everyone know just how things are going during this time. While the news media has always been our worst enemy, this is a time it could be our best friend. Let the media know when things are going on that the public needs to see.
 
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