Letters: Hiring Veterans, EOBRs for Mexico

These Letters to the Editor appear in the April 18 print edition of Transport Topics. Click here to subscribe today.

Hiring Veterans

Thank you for your March 21 cover story, “Vets Make Valuable Employees, Several Motor Carriers Report.” There is no greater testament to the value that our military veterans bring to our industry than from those carriers with firsthand experience attracting, hiring and supporting them as they develop careers in transportation. With that said, I was disappointed that Con-way was not contacted about our efforts to support this community, particularly given our outreach to Transport Topics in the past.

Con-way Inc., a $5 billion transportation and logistics company, relies on the unique skills and dependability that veterans bring to their careers in the industry, which in turn positively affects our customer-service levels and our bottom line. In fact, together, our operating companies — Con-way Freight, Con-way Truckload and Menlo Worldwide Logistics — employ more than 1,000 active reservists and retired veterans.

We also have had a long-standing relationship with both the U.S. Army Reserve and the U.S. Department of Labor and continue to expand our programs and explore growth opportunities. It is our hope that you will consider Con-way Inc. in the event of a follow-up article or related piece in the future.

Con-way military program highlights include:

• U.S. Army Reserve Employer Partnership — Launched in 2008, this partnership provides reservists opportunities for employment with Con-way Freight once they successfully complete their military occupational training. The Army Reserve and Con-way Freight work together to recruit, license and offer training reciprocity to qualified soldier candidates who are entering the freight transportation field. Through its driver training schools in more than 50 cities across the United States, Con-way Freight also recruits returning soldiers to join its in-house training program, which provides entry-level employment as a dock worker coupled with on-the-job training and education enabling the individual to earn his Commercial Driver License and graduate to a driver position with the company.

• U.S. Department of Labor National Apprenticeship Program — Launched in 2009 with Con-way Truckload, the U.S. Department of Labor National Apprenticeship Program permits eligible veterans and active members of the Guard and Reserve to receive paid on-the-job training using GI Bill benefits. Qualifying veterans or reservists can receive up to an additional $1,000 a month in tax-free GI Bill benefits under this apprenticeship program during their first year with Con-way Truckload. Upon successful completion of the full-year apprentice program, drivers move on to the company pay scale.

Facts about Con-way and the military:

• Freedom Award — In 2007, Con-way was honored with the “Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award” from the National Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, a Defense Department organization promoting cooperation between the Guard and Reserve and civilian employers. It is the highest honor the DOD bestows on companies that have demonstrated support for National Guard and Reserve employees.

• Deployment support — Through its Con-way Cares initiative, the company provides regular shipments of “care packages” to deployed service members.

• Family health care/military pay differential — The company provides a pay differential for deployed citizen soldiers, making up the shortfall between military pay and their Con-way pay, as well as continuation of health benefits for deployed soldiers’ families.

• Family outreach — Con-way human resources representatives maintain contact with families to ensure that they understand all available benefits, while employee volunteers also provide outreach to soldiers’ families, assisting them with everyday challenges such as home maintenance, auto repairs and snow removal.

Randy Mullett

Vice President, Government Relations and Public Affairs

Con-way Inc.

Ann Arbor, Mich.

EOBRs for Mexico

We used to like to say that truck drivers’ jobs were 7 million to 10 million jobs that “could not be exported.” It seems that our government, with the assistance of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, has creatively figured out a way to do just that with Mexican trucks. What’s even worse, they’ve mitigated some compliance concerns by requiring our competitors from the south to install electronic onboard recorders.

There’s much talk through a proposed FMCSA rulemaking and through congressional mandate for all commercial carriers to install these expensive, intrusive and unneeded devices on all commercial vehicles. What’s more, though our industry on this side of the Rio Grande will be required to spend billions of dollars to implement, operate and maintain these devices, FMCSA is proposing to pay for EOBRs on Mexican trucks.

Above and beyond the incredulous dismay and amazement I feel about this decision, I have several questions concerning the policy:

1. For an agency that’s complained for years (since its inception) about lack of funds to carry out its core regulatory functions, how can it afford this?

2. Under what authority can FMCSA spend this $500,000 to $700,000? I thought only Congress could spend our money in a wasteful and arbitrary manner. Perhaps it was approved by the transportation czar — whoever that might be.

3. This appears to be another example of our government segregating groups into the “funded” and “unfunded,” the “covered” or “not covered,” the “chosen” or “the unwashed” — another example of “unequal” protection under the laws.

Getting back to the fact that our nation’s drivers’ jobs were always considered unexportable, the Mexican competitive and safety onslaught pales in comparison to the active, ongoing and unrelenting attack by FMCSA on the trucking industry and the jobs it provides.

I’m having a difficult time connecting the dots between an ad-ministration that’s all about job creation, an advocate for small business and re-energizing a struggling economy verbally through the media and then covertly through its agencies and “back-room transparency” enacting policies and regulations that cripple small business and eliminate jobs.

With the new “re-regulation” through FMCSA’s Compliance, Safety, Accountability program going into effect without going through rulemaking, with the new hours of service being relentlessly pushed forward despite huge negative pushback from big companies, small companies, owner-operators and drivers, 122 representatives and 25 senators and virtually everybody who tried to be heard at those farces held by FMCSA called “listening sessions,” the agency seems determined to eliminate driving positions, destroy the viability of 45% to 50% of the small trucking companies in America, and to make entrance into the industry more difficult than ever and profitability an impossibility.

I firmly believe this administration is operating on the whimsical notion that “bullet” trains are to be a part of our near future, that rail somehow can replace commercial trucks and that natural gas, fuel cells or windmills will replace oil as our primary fuel in transportation.

FMCSA Administrator Anne Ferro has stated that she will not rest until there’s not one, single truck-related fatality. She continues to downplay the industry’s tremendous improvement in safety numbers over the past five years, and I’m convinced she’s figured out how to achieve her idealistic, Utopian dream of zero tolerance for fatalities — and that is to eliminate commercial trucks and their professional drivers.

David Owen


National Association of Small Trucking Companies

Gallatin, Tenn.

Editor’s Note: Following protests by American Trucking Associations and others when the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration proposed to pay for the electronic onboard recorders it was requiring in Mexican trucks, the U.S. Department of Transportation changed this specific requirement to allow Global Positioning System devices also to be used for tracking purposes to ensure Mexican truckers’ compliance with U.S. cabotage and hours-of-service regulations. According to ATA spokesman Sean McNally, U.S. truckers will not be permitted to make the same substitution because, “The GPS is a lesser technology.”