In The News
OOIDA: Peters reverting to â€˜economic fear mongering'; Teamsters also critical
GRAIN VALLEY, Mo. â€” The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) reacted to U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary Petersâ€™ plea to keep the Mexico truck program today, saying Peters is attempting â€œto use economic threats to scare lawmakersâ€ into supporting the program. The Teamsters Union also organized a press conference to voice continuing opposition to NAFTA generally and the trucking plan in particular.
â€œItâ€™s a sad attempt at economic fear mongering,â€ said OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer. â€œDespite their lip service, they well know that the pilot program is outside of the law.â€
An OOIDA news release stated that â€œthe economic interests of a few have been placed above the safety and security of many.â€
â€œThe Secretary seems to be encouraging Mexico to step in and help the Bush Administration force this down the throats of Americans,â€ said Spencer. â€œWhere the hell does she get off encouraging Mexico to impose fees and tariffs on U.S. goods?â€
Spencer said he found humor in Petersâ€™ â€œcontention that the cross-border pilot program presents U.S.-based truckers with a â€˜promise of prosperityâ€™.
â€œSafety standards in Mexico simply are not on par with those in the United States, and few U.S. trucking companies even appear interested in going south,â€ added Spencer. â€œThe program is being spun as a solution to a problem that doesn't exist.â€
â€œThe program is supposed to work both ways across the border, and yet there are very few signing up on either side,â€ said Spencer. â€œBig businesses want the cheap labor, but for a number of reasons trucking companies on both sides of the border donâ€™t want to get involved.â€
In comments following Petersâ€™ news conference, Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa likewise blasted the Bush administration for its â€œreckless indifference to the economic struggles of working Americans.â€
â€œNo matter how many jobs we lose, no matter how many foreclosures, no matter how many people die on the highways, the Bush administration just doesnâ€™t care about the safety and security of American workers,â€ Hoffa said.
Hoffa pointed out that the United States buys $70 billion more goods from Mexico than it sells to that country.
â€œI donâ€™t buy it,â€ Hoffa said in a conference call with reporters, referring to Petersâ€™ concern for retaliatory action by Mexico. â€œTheyâ€™ve got a $70 billion trade surplus. Theyâ€™d be foolish to do it.â€
Hoffa was joined by Dr. Robert E. Scott, director of International Programs for the Economic Policy Institute. Scott said that NAFTA cost 1 million jobs in the United States during its first 10 years of implementation. Without NAFTA, U.S. workers would have earned $7.6 billion more in wages in 2004 alone, according to Scott.
â€œItâ€™s been really bad for workers in the United States,â€ Scott said.
Pennsylvania and Mississippi â€” both with upcoming presidential primaries â€” are two of the states hardest hit by NAFTA, Scott said.