Teamster Chief, Congressmen Blast Mexico Truck Access To U.S.
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Aired 10/19/11 on KPBS News.
Jimmy Hoff Jr. was joined by Bob Filner and Duncan Hunter, showing bipartisan distress with new trucking access.
SAN DIEGO The national Teamsters Union president was in San Diego speaking out against a program which allows Mexican trucks access to all U.S. roads. Jimmy Hoffa, Jr. has been fighting against the program for years.
The North American Free Trade Agreement ostensibly opened up U.S. and Mexican roads to truckers from both countries when it was signed in 1994, but the idea has been stalled for years. Hoffa said at a news conference in Otay Mesa today that this is the wrong time to ship American trucking jobs south of the border. He said it puts Americans at risk.
"This basically is a program that is playing Russian roulette with highway safety in the United States," Hoffa said.
But the American Trucking Organization represents thousand of trucking companies and the group supports the program.
They argue that the move will create U.S. jobs because Mexico will lift retaliatory tariffs on US goods.
San Diego congressman Bob Filner, a Democrat, and Duncan Hunter Jr., a Republican, found rare common ground. They called for the program to be stopped.
"Don't do this when America's in a huge recession, a depression some would even say,: Hunter said. "Don't do it now. Let's talk about it, make sure it's the right thing to do. Congress and the administration need to step up immediately and stop this program from continuing. Let's keep America working."
Filner, who is running for mayor of San Diego, said his message is simple: Mexican trucks just aren't safe.
When the pilot program moves forward, Mexico is expected to lift retaliatory tariffs on US goods being shipped into that country. Business groups say that'll help create jobs in the U.S.