‘Amateur hour’: ATA prez takes a seeming swipe at anti-ELD mandate protests

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Updated Oct 29, 2017

With the American Trucking Associations’ annual management conference ongoing in Florida this week, press materials from the organization of late have been something of a series of thumbs in the eye for drivers to one degree or another. The much-ballyhooed and -bemoaned and -contested notion of a “driver shortage” reared its head in yet another analysis that pegged the ever-evolving shortage-as-trucking-economic-indicator numbers at a potential 50,000 drivers short by the end of the year if conditions don’t change. (To ATA economist Bob Costello’s credit, his remarks in the press release did at least acknowledge a principal aspect of any discussion of just why drivers leave trucking companies: “We already see fleets raising pay and offering other incentives to attract drivers” — well-needed, let’s hope it continues and continues and….)

Meanwhile, ATA head Chris Spear’s address to the conference was detailed in part in a piece picked up broadly around trucking media and headlined “CEO Spear Highlights ATA Advocacy Efforts, Calls for Unity in Annual Address.”

Unity, of course, among those who agree to live with the reality that, as Spear underscored, the ELD mandate “has been legislated, promulgated and litigated. … It is now time to move forward. ELD technology removes one’s ability to exceed the legal hours of services, ushering in a safe, efficient and fair playing field for the nation’s trucking industry.”

ATA’s Capitol Hill-area office — at the corner of North Carolina and 1st streets SE — I happened by looking for a parking spot during the D.C. demonstrations early this month.ATA’s Capitol Hill-area office — at the corner of North Carolina and 1st streets SE — I happened by looking for a parking spot during the D.C. demonstrations early this month.

What’s more, Spear was also quoted making condescending reference to those who would protest the rule, lumping what he called “amateur-hour advocacy groups” together with the anti-truck crowd in holding to an incorrect notion of “what’s best for our industry. … This wave of special interests has built a cottage industry fueled by ideology, emotion and misguided narratives – all intended to divide our industry and this association. Obstruction is their weapon of choice,” the last perhaps a reference to legislation that would put the mandate’s enforcement on hold, among other things. (And not to split hairs, but in Washington-ese, as a particular business lobby ATA itself probably is the very definition of a special interest group.)

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There has been much hardening of hearts and perhaps strengthening of will over this particular quotation among the anti-ELD mandate crowd out there in social media the last couple days, just as Texas rep. Brian Babin’s ELD delay bill has gained a couple-few more cosponsors in the House of Representatives (current count: 59). A press release came over the transom today, too, from Lucas Oil Products, detailing former trucker and Lucas founder Forrest Lucas’ banding together with Sikhs Political Action Committee chairman Gurinder Singh Khalsa and those thousands of anti-mandate protestors from the American Sikh community I’ve written about recently to “express concern” over required use of ELDs:

Forrest LucasForrest Lucas

Both Lucas and Khalsa are concerned about the impact of the regulation on the economy. They assert that trucks already deliver goods and products just in time. Delays will be costly to truck related businesses and small businesses will suffer the most adverse impacts of the proposed new law.

“The Sikhs and the truck groups and the coalitions are doing something important,” said Forrest Lucas. “They are bringing the problems of the ELD to the American public’s attention.”

(Find a link to a related op-ed in The Hill co-penned by Lucas in the story at this link.)

Should they choose to pay attention, that public, suggests reader Glenn Gilbertmay ultimately come down on what nearly 9 in 10 owner-operators view as the appropriate side of the ELD issue. In our most recent polling, conducted earlier this year, 89 percent of owner-operators indicated they were against mandated ELDs, whether they were already utilizing them or not.

Following find Gilbert’s treatise on ELDs, which he offered under the subject line of “Isaiah and the ELD” this morning. Enjoy.

Isaiah and the ELD

Under the watchful and benevolent auspices of Big Brother to the motoring public purportedly for the safety of all that travel American highways, the faithfully patriotic commercial truck driver is becoming increasingly scrutinized, this time via the ELD mandate. The mandate marks yet another round of overreaching regulation, a yoke of control with the factitious promise of better tomorrows.

Gainsaying demonstration against this particular mandate, hearkening back to the legacy of Mike Parkhurst and the ’70s Convoy craze, in our free-for-all market of ideas is regarded by some, even within the brethren, as pernicious Luddite resistance nigh unto transgression of biblical proportion.

The Good Book — from which we get canonical lessons of punishment for ugly actors, we’re told by those proponents who assert they know what is and is not the truth about the imposition of these monitoring devices (ceaseless admonition from them, too, regarding our occupation) — also warns potentates of excessive rule.

Was it the Lord God who said, “For precept must be upon precept; line upon line?” No. Read the scripture carefully. It was the scornful men, drunken priests, the “crown of pride”  with “stammering lips … that err in vision and stumble in judgment” who “rule this people” with “lies of refuge … from the overflowing scourge.” The consequence of which they (the people) “might go, and fall backward, and be broken, and snared, and taken.”

Cue Isaiah (chapter 28) warning of “a spirit of judgment to him that sitteth in judgment, and for strength to them that turn the battle to the gate.”

Having been obsequious to a culture of blind compliance lo these many years, the anti-ELD coalition, in desperate grassroots remonstrance, is taking that battle to the gate of hierarchy primarily in D.C., now set like flint in protests and appeals, as any contingent seeking relief from oppression would.

The general public? Don’t concern yourself much about them. They’re more inclined to trepidation from the bold new, albeit tenuous, era of a faceless autonomous trucking, not the oft-championed proletarian cause that pits the worker against the ruling class. –Glenn Gilbert

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