During the Town Meeting at The Maintenance Council's summer meeting in Tucson, Ariz., ATA Chief Operating Officer David Barefoot told the 400-plus attendees that ATA President Walter McCormick would recommend dropping ATA and state association membership requirements to the 44-member ATA Executive Committee, which meets June 22.
Barefoot said he expects a positive vote based on leadership recommendations from the powerful five-man ATA Management Committee, made up of CEOs of major carriers such as UPS, Crete Carriers and ABF Freight System.
The proposal amends the controversial Wren Strategic plan, first put forward in 1998, which called for all trucking companies and/or individuals in those fleets to join ATA and a state trucking association as a condition for participating in any ATA groups such as conferences and councils. The goal of the plan was to help rebuild dwindling ATA membership while strengthening the councils.
At least in the case of TMC, it wasn't working. ATA membership and TMC membership dropped dramatically over the past two years, with TMC losing about one-third of its fleet membership and ATA dropping to about 2,600 members. Over the years, TMC has become one of the top revenue producers to parent ATA, in recent years contributing more than $2.3 million a year.
Barefoot told meeting attendees that TMC plays a key role in supporting ATA's advocacy positions with Congress and the federal agencies on technical issues. "The collective knowledge of your group is a vital technical resource for us in developing ATA policy," he said.
One of the recommendations made by the TMC Transition Committee, chaired by FedEx's Sid Gooch, was for a slight annual dues increase of $50 for participation in TMC if their companies were not ATA member fleets and a $20 increase for multiple memberships. No increases for Associates (suppliers) were called for.
To better accommodate the Wren plan, which is built around ATA memberships, ATA asked TMC to drop the term TMC "member" and to come up with an alternative such as "associate" or "representative" or "subscriber." The TMC board of directors will be working to do this over the summer. Under the Wren plan, "ATA membership" means company membership. TMC's members are individuals, not companies.
As part of its new relationship with TMC, ATA will help TMC to rebuild its membership ("subscriber") base, which has dropped by several hundred as fleet managers opted not to renew "memberships" while the ATA/TMC controversy was going on.
The overall mood of the Town Meeting attendees is best described as "relieved" and "optimistic" that a deal had been struck and TMC can now get back to its charter: improving commercial vehicles, their maintenance and maintenance management.