San Diego Union Tribune

September 6, 2007

Teamsters continue battle against truck initiative
WASHINGTON – The Teamsters union and other groups opposed to opening the border to long-haul Mexican trucks continued to battle the initiative Thursday morning as U.S. transportation officials awaited an assessment expected to give them the go-ahead to start a one-year pilot program.



Dozens of truckers protested the initiative, which could begin as early as Thursday afternoon, during Teamster rallies at the Otay Mesa border crossing and in Laredo, Texas.

Opening the U.S.-Mexico border to long-haul trucks from both countries is one of the provisions of the NAFTA treaty.

Sheryl McGurk, who lost three family members in a collision with a Mexican truck in San Diego two years ago, spoke against allowing Mexican trucks to drive throughout the U.S. during a morning press conference on Capitol Hill.

“To lose your mom, your dad and your nephew all at once is indescribable,” she said.

McGurk's parents, Robert and Marie Jennings of Carlsbad, and her nephew, David Jennings II of Beaver Creek, Ohio, were killed when their van hit a Mexican truck that was stalled on Interstate 5 near Carmel Valley Road.

Opponents of the trucking program, including Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Alpine, contend that Mexican trucks will be unsafe and could be used to smuggle drugs or terrorists.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration insists it has put in place a program that will ensure Mexican trucks are as safe as U.S. carriers.

The agency is awaiting an assessment of its plans from the Department of Transportation's inspector general. That assessment must be released to Congress before the border can be opened for the pilot program.

It would allow up to 100 Mexican carriers to send trucks throughout the United States, something that hasn't occurred on a large scale since 1982. The U.S. government said it has checked driver and truck safety records from the companies who have been approved for the test.