Teamsters Seek to Halt Trucking from Mexico

The Teamsters Union asks a federal appeals court to put the brakes on a pilot program that would allow Mexican trucks to travel deep into the U.S. Trucks from the United States and Mexico were supposed to be able to travel at will between the two countries under the North American Free Trade Agreement.

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The Teamsters Union said yesterday it will ask a federal appeals court to put the brakes on a pilot program that would allow Mexican truckers to carry cargo anywhere inside the United States. NPR's Scott Horsley reports.

SCOTT HORSLEY: Trucks from the U.S. and Mexico were supposed to be able to travel at will between the two countries under the North American Free Trade Agreement, but that open access has been stalled again and again. Mexican trucks can still go no further than 25 miles north of the border, and U.S. trucks can't enter Mexico at all. Transportation Secretary Mary Peters announced the latest effort to break that logjam back in February, a pilot program that would allow 100 Mexican truck companies to travel freely north of the border.

Ms. MARY PETERS (U.S. Secretary of Transportation): The time has come for us to move forward on a long-standing promise with Mexico by taking a trucking provision of the North American Free Trade Agreement off hold.

HORSLEY: Peters promised that Mexican drivers would be screened and their trucks would be inspected from hood to tail lamps. But Teamsters spokeswoman Leslie Miller points to an Inspector General's report this month that raised questions about the reliability of Mexican truckers' driving records.

Ms. LESLIE MILLER (Teamsters Union): Just because we have a free trade agreement doesn't mean that people can come to our county and do business in a way that doesn't meet our standards.

HORSLEY: The Teamsters, along with the Sierra Club and Public Citizen, have asked a federal appeals court for an emergency order to stop the pilot program from starting up on Saturday. Teamsters president Jim Hoffa said it would be a slap in the face to American workers to launch the project on Labor Day weekend.

Scott Horsley, NPR News, San Diego.

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