Case Heard in U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit
(WASHINGTON) —The Teamsters Union argued in court today that the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) pilot program to open the border to Mexican trucks must be shut down because it is dangerous and illegal.
General President Jim Hoffa said the DOT’s claim that the Teamsters don’t have standing to argue against the program is ridiculous.
The Teamsters filed the case in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit Court on March 7. The case was heard separately today with a similar lawsuit by the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association against the DOT’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Judges Judith Rogers, Karen LeCraft Henderson and Brett Kavanaugh heard the arguments.
“FMCSA continues to claim that we don’t have standing because our members aren’t harmed by a program that opens the border to low-paid truck drivers and dangerous, dirty trucks,” Hoffa said. “That argument doesn’t make sense.
“The government is flat-out wrong to say that medical standards for truck drivers are higher in Mexico than they are in the United States,” Hoffa said. “U.S. commercial truck drivers have to follow all U.S. safety regulations, but FMCSA exempts Mexican drivers from some of them.”
Attorneys for OOIDA argued the pilot program offers special treatment to Mexican drivers “who are not willing or able to follow all U.S. laws.”
Attorneys for the Teamsters told the court that American drivers must be able to identify the colors red, yellow and green while Mexican drivers only have to be able to identify red. Color recognition has been determined by the DOT as essential to highway safety.
The purpose of the three-year pilot program is to demonstrate the impact of Mexican trucks on U.S. highway safety. The law requires the program to include a statistically valid number of trucks. In September, the DOT’s inspector general reported only five trucks had entered the program, and only three made trips beyond the border zone.
The Teamsters have predicted the program would fail.
The suit claims the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration breaks the following laws:
- It waives a law that trucks must display certain proof that they meet federal vehicle safety standards.
- It breaks the law requiring the pilot program to achieve an equivalent level of safety because Mexican drivers don’t have to meet the same physical requirements as U.S. drivers.
- It breaks the law that Mexico must provide simultaneous and comparable access to U.S. trucks. Mexico cannot do so because of the limited availability of ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel in Mexico.
- It breaks the law that the pilot program must include enough participants to be statistically valid.
- It doesn’t comply with the environment requirement of the National Environmental Policy Act.
The Teamsters case is USCA Case #11-1444 and the document number is 1362495. A copy of the brief can be viewed here.