The TCA board decided earlier to reject an already deficit budget in order to build in financial support for ATA to battle the proposed hours of service changes. The proposal was faxed to the entire membership for approval by a June 30 deadline.
Bob Hansen, TCA chairman, said the vote was 294 in favor and 26 against. Hansen pointed out that how the money will be spent is to be controlled by TCA officers. "It is not just being given to ATA to do what they want with," he said."We could spend it where or on what we choose as long as it's used to defeat HOS as now proposed."
Ironically, the vote to financially support ATA comes on the heels of a complete breakdown in efforts to integrate TCA into ATA under the "Wren Plan." TCA has consistently balked at terms of the plan, which would require TCA members to also be members of state trucking associations and of ATA.
The TCA board submitted a revised proposal for affilitation to the ATA Executive Committee at its Summer Leadership meeting in mid-June.
That plan called for TCA to pay ATA a flat $10,000 monthly fee, plus a voluntary contribution from TCA members of $1 per truck per month. TCA's counter affliation plan was rejected by ATA. In a letter to ATA Chairman Lee Shaffer, Hansen expressed his disappointment in the decision. "As an independent association, TCA will continue to work with ATA on issues of mutual importance for the good of the truckload segment of the industry," he wrote.
The recent decision to allocate funds to fight the hours of service proposal indicates TCA's continued reliance on ATA to lobby for the group on important issues in Washington. And hours of service is definitely an important truckload issue.
In an address before the TCA board, Walter McCormick, ATA president, told members 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 our hands," he said.
While ATA is working at the DOT level, making appearances and comments 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."
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.