Tagged: help

0

Local trucking firms butting heads with Border Patrol

Newly enforced regulations prohibiting Mexican truck drivers from transporting cargo loads picked up at local warehouses to another location within the United States are creating a headache for trucking and logistics companies.

The issue stems from commercial violations of so-called “cabotage” regulations, a provision in the North American Free Trade Agreement that prohibits foreign truck drivers from lugging cargo that originated in the United States to a final destination within the country.

The issue prompted the owners of local trucking and logistic companies to convene a meeting Wednesday afternoon to discuss possible solutions to the problem. More than 25 people attended the gathering at WS Trucklines off Old Tucson Road, with most expressing concerns that if the problem isn’t fixed, they may have to close their businesses or lay off employees.

“Long story short, if we don’t fix this soon, 100 companies will close in Nogales,” said Jimmy Watson, Jr., who runs local trucking company JSJ Enterprises with his father Jimmy Watson, Sr.

Watson said that while the regulations have long been in place, they weren’t being enforced by local Border Patrol agents at the Interstate 19 checkpoint.

That changed, however, when Patrol Agent in Charge Sabri Dikman took over the Nogales Station in June, Watson said.

Though the group had until Oct. 1 to comply with the regulations, an email from Eric Lee, watch commander at the Nogales Border Patrol Station, to Luis Velasco of Athena Logistic Solutions, which the group provided to the NI, states: “The Chief of Tucson Sector has agreed to give local companies more time to get their operations in compliance before we start enforcing the regulations.”

The group now has until Jan. 1, 2018 to come into compliance.

“This is just an aspirin for the headache that is coming,” Watson told the group.

Change in attitude

In an emailed statement Thursday morning, the Border Patrol’s Tucson Sector public information office said: “Federal immigration regulations and policies provide that foreign commercial truck drivers may qualify for temporary entry with a B-1 visa to pick up or deliver cargo traveling in the stream of international commerce.”

B-1 Temporary Business Visitor visas are meant for people who are participating in business activities in the United States. In the case of truck drivers here on a B-1 visa, they must enter the United States with a trailer loaded with foreign merchandise and deliver it to its final destination, remaining in the stream of international commerce.

They cannot, however, unload the cargo locally and then reload their trucks with merchandise stored at warehouses in Nogales and Rio Rico. Doing so would be a violation of cabotage regulations, also known as point-to-point hauling, because it would be considered domestic commerce and would be in direct competition to U.S. truck drivers.

“These regulations do not allow for commercial drivers in the United States on a B-1 visa to carry cargo in violation of cabotage laws, i.e. domestic point-to-point hauling or other purely domestic service or solicitation,” the sector’s public information office said. “Should a driver engage in such activity, he/she would be engaging in unauthorized employment in the United States in violation of (federal statutes).”

According to a pamphlet distributed by Border Patrol regarding NAFTA regulations that was provided to the NI by the business owners, drivers in violation of employment laws can have their cargo taken, visas cancelled, and will be arrested and placed in deportation proceedings. Companies in violation can also face civil and criminal penalties.

Asked why the change in attitude, the sector’s public information office said: “Border Patrol has exercised agent discretion in the enforcement of this law in the past. Reports from Interstate 19 checkpoint indicate numerous drivers transiting through the checkpoint are in violation of cabotage requirements.”

Once regulations are enforced, agents at the I-19 checkpoint will check truck drivers’ employment status and ask where the cargo loads originated.

Possible solutions

Among them, the businesses represented at Wednesday’s meeting have roughly 500 trucks, Watson said. If they’re unable to find a solution by the Jan. 1 deadline, it would mean a significant blow to the local economy, he added.

The group brainstormed various ways in which they could come into compliance with federal regulations, including hiring U.S. truck drivers, obtaining H-2B Temporary Non-Agricultural Worker visas for their employees and lobbying local, state and federal officials.

However, following through with those suggestions is easier said than done.

Nationwide, there is a shortage of U.S. truck drivers, and the group noted that the older average age of truck drivers on the road means there will be even more vacancies in the coming years.

Watson and others in attendance, including Luis Rivera of L&R Trucking and Salvador Gonzalez Luna of Goza Trucking, said they’ve run classified advertisements and visited the Santa Cruz County One Stop Career Center, but have been unsuccessful in their search for American drivers.

They said many potential drivers want to work Monday-Friday, drive locally or within the state and be paid in cash, demands that aren’t realistic, Gonzalez said. He added that many insurance companies also require that drivers have three years experience, which makes it difficult to attract younger drivers who have recently received their commercial driver’s license.

Still, Watson encouraged the group to reach out to the One Stop Center and also sign up to participate in the county job fair next month.

Another obstacle has been obtaining H-2B visas. Isaias Salas, owner of WS Trucklines, and Rivera said despite hiring a lawyer to help them with the application process, they’ve been denied multiple times. Velasco of Athena Logistic Solutions, who said he applied on his own and received a response from the Department of Labor, encouraged the group to submit the applications themselves before hiring a lawyer.

In addition to seeking American drivers more aggressively and applying for H-2B visas, the group also discussed creating a trucking association, helping to eliminate some of the competition among them, and also working with immigration lawyers and government officials who can help get their needs addressed.

“We’re not opposed to the regulations,” Gonzalez said. “We want to do things right, but we need help.”

Coincidentally, the meeting Wednesday came a day after the Arizona Department of Transportation held a training with Mexican truck drivers in Nogales, Sonora as part of an effort aimed at helping them cross the border more efficiently.

The ADOT effort, which teaches commercial drivers what to expect during safety inspections when they cross through a port of entry, seeks to reduce long lines at the port. It’s part of on-going effort to build better relationships between truckers and federal and state transportation inspectors at the Mariposa Port of Entry, which local and state officials believe is crucial to cross-border trade.

0

Keep on truckin'

Representatives from  the transportation industry met inside the Trinity Anglican Church in Cornwall on Thursday for a frank discussion on what can be done to encourage more people to consider truck driving as a career.

The brainstorming session was organized by the Tri-County Literacy Council, which received a sector partnership grant from the Ministry of Education to research possible programs it could offer to help people learn the required skills for a career.

According to the project’s co-ordinator, Carolyn Eva, they decided to partner with the transportation sector because of the industry’s stated need for more truckers.
“We’re working to examine and identify the barriers to the transportation industry and to see how we can address these barriers and work with employers, agencies and truck driving schools, and job seekers — all of whom were represented here today and had input in what we are doing,” said Eva.

More than a dozen people came to talk about those barriers for almost two hours on Thursday. Their conversation touched on issues such as the stigma of wanting to be a truck driver which, among other things, hampers the ability of recruiting young people out of high school.

They also discussed the looming impact of automation on the trucking industry as well as the difficulty of women getting into such a male-dominated industry.
Eva said there was plenty for the literacy council to consider as it moved on to drawing up the strategic plan they will need to submit to the province by mid-November. One of her biggest takeaways, she said, was the under-representation of certain groups in the industry.

“Youth and women are not represented in the truck driving field for various reasons, and I think there’s a lot of opportunity there,” she said.

Eva envisions the literacy council being able to provide some “pre-training” to people interested in becoming truckers as a way to help them get over the barriers that keep people from pursuing a career in transportation.

“There are some essential skills such as numeracy, reading documents, maps. These are skills that are required in this industry that some people may not necessarily have when they go to trucking school. So we can do some pertaining to help people along that path,” she said.

Once the literacy council submits its strategy to the province, it will look at trying to get some additional grant money to make those training programs a reality.
 

0

Former Stafford lorry drivers help you travel in style

A NEW firm providing executive travel has launched in Stafford.

P&B Executive Travel is run by Paul Fisher, pictured right, and Barry Tinkler, pictured left, from a base outside Stafford Rangers in Astonfields Road.

The pair, who both live in Stafford, previously worked as lorry drivers and decided they wanted to set up their own firm.

They provide chauffeur-driven services to a range of events, including weddings, proms, parties and airport drop-offs and pick-ups for people wanting to travel in luxury. So far in their fleet of vehicles they have a Jaguar and Mercedes.

Paul said: “This was something that we really wanted to do and we’re hoping to make it a success.”