Teamsters reaffirm Mexican truck position

The International Brotherhood of Teamsters has endorsed a study by the AFL-CIO labor organization that says a Senate ban on Mexican trucks does not violate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The study, conducted by the Dewey Ballentine law firm for the transportation trades department of the AFL-CIO, reviewed a legislative amendment sponsored by Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) and Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) in August. The amendment to the Senate’s Transportation Appropriations bill requires a number of safety requirements be met before Mexican trucks can travel beyond the currently permitted commercial zone. President George W. Bush had said earlier this year that any restrictions on Mexican truck access to the United States would violate NAFTA. Dewey Ballentine, however, said that its review of that amendment finds it to be compliant with NAFTA provisions for cross-border trade access. The law firm said the legislation removes the ban on Mexican trucks once DOT safety regulations have been implemented and that DOT certification of new inspectors won't negatively affect cross-border trucking. "The Murray-Shelby compromise is sensible legislation. Those who would oppose it obviously care more about profits than the American lives put at risk," said Teamsters president James P. Hoffa. Hoffa has also taken aim at upcoming labor negotiations with UPS, which employs 210,000 of the union’s members. The Teamsters’ current five-year contract with Atlanta-based UPS expires in July 2002 and Hoffa recently said the Teamsters will ask for "substantial" wage and benefit increases, along with 2,500 new jobs per year over the next five-year UPS contract. Those demands could be repeated in negotiations with other trucking companies that employ Teamsters as those contracts come up for renewal in 2003.

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