During a board meeting held in conjunction with ATA's summer leadership meeting, TCA board members decided to reject the budget and go back to the drawing board to build in funding for fighting the hours of service changes proposed by DOT. Truckers said the hours of service proposal is the biggest battle facing trucking since deregulation of the industry in 1980.
In an address before the TCA meeting, Walter McCormick, ATA president, told members that ATA is "doing what we promised to do" in fighting for truckload carrier issues in Washington. And the biggest issue, for all carriers, he said, is the hours of service issue.
McCormick told the truckload carriers that hours of service reform is the biggest issue facing the industry in two decades -- even bigger than deregulation, with economic impact that will exceed deregulation. "We have a very big battle on ours hands," he said.
While ATA is working at the DOT level, making appearances and comment and garnering media and public support at each field hearing on the hours of service issue, ATA's main strategy is to fight the proposal legislatively. ATA was successful in attaching an amendment to a transportation funding bill that would stop DOT from enacting the new hours rules.
Going the legislative route is necessary, McCormick said, because "this is a rule promulgated by DOT. DOT has the power to finalize it at the end of the comment period at its whim."
He pointed out that the last time a presidential administration was in its eighth year was during the Carter Administration, and that most of the rules proposed then were finalized. "When the Reagan Administration took office they found they couldn't rescind the rules without initiating a new rulemaking process," he added. That is something the trucking industry is attempting to avoid in the hours of service fight.
The industry will also attempt to build language into comments on the issue that will open the door for legal challenges should the rules be adopted.
ATA's number one objective is to kill the current proposal. Their number two objective is to get their own plan put in its place, a plan backed by the trucking industry and developed with input from sleep scientists.
To help on that end, the Truckload Carrier Assn. board voted down a motion to pass its budget. The budget will go back for a vote of the entire board of directors -- required to alter the budget -- to include funding for the hours fight. It is scheduled to be sent via fax this week.
C.J. "Mac" McCormick, former TCA chairman and ATA Political Action Committee Chairman,initiated the action. He told TCA members that they needed to belly up and help ATA if they planned to effectively fight the hours of service battle. His proposal to allocate $500,000 from TCA's budget, to be administrated by TCA officers, to help ATA with the hours of service issue was nearly unanimously accepted by board members at the in attendance the leadership meeting. Only one vote was cast in opposition.
The TCA board also plans to submit its revised propoal for affilitation to the ATA Executive Committee this week.
That plan calls for TCA to pay ATA a flat $10,000 a monthly fee, plus a voluntary contribution from TCA members of $1 per truck per month.
The plan was hatched by a committee appointed by TCA Chairman Bob Hansen, charged with finding a way to bring the two organizations together after TCA's membership rejected affliliation with ATA last March.
Hansen told members the new plan was an attempt to leave "a crack" to allow ATA a chance to prove to sceptical TCA members the organization's value. Some TCA members balked at ATA's mandatory membership requirement.