Arkansas Trucking Association

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The Last Word

Louder than the rest

By Chris Spear

For 90 years, the ATA Federation has been the leading voice of our industry in Washington, D.C. and every state capital across the country. That’s volume, reach and history no other voice in trucking can claim, and few industry associations can match. Today, we can proudly declare our efforts are making a difference.

Our collective voice cuts directly through the rhetoric and emotion peddled by our foes: trial lawyers chasing jackpot justice, self-promoting union bosses, and delusional environmental extremists. Together, they constitute a clear threat to our industry’s ability to grow and support our nation’s economic security.

Union bosses today are emboldened. Pouring $1.8 billion into the last Presidential cycle, they bought access, legislation and regulations. The Pro Act, federal reclassification rules, California’s AB5 and duplicative meal and rest break requirements are all engineered to rewrite a century of labor laws and reverse decades of plummeting union membership. 

While union membership shrinks, our industry has grown to more than 8.4 million strong. One in 17 jobs in the United States are trucking related. These hardworking, patriotic men and women are the glue that binds the nation’s supply chain, the backbone of the economy and the heartbeat of this nation. They think on their feet and for themselves. They don’t need some showboating union boss to do it for them. 

This is why union membership has plummeted by more than half since 1983—now less than 6% of the country’s workforce. Union bosses are desperate and willing to say anything to convince anyone that they’re relevant and we’re not. Their self-serving rhetoric deserves contrast, and that’s what the ATA does best. 

We support our employees, who in turn provide for America. Truck drivers’ median salary is now $70,000 plus full benefits, no college degree needed, nor all the debt that comes with it. ATRI reports trucking pay is up 15.5% year over year, leading all other modes of transportation. 

Meanwhile, our war with the plaintiffs’ bar carries on, and we’re winning—with major victories this year in Florida and Iowa. Elected officials at all level of government are listening, and many are now acting, thanks to the efforts of our federation. Jackpot justice has no place in the courtroom and no place in our industry.

There have now been over a dozen reform bills passed since ATA declared lawsuit abuse a tier one priority in 2019, and a dozen more states are lining up to do the same. Injury law firms are paying close attention, and they should be. Their greed is their downfall, and it’s our job to expose it. We have their playbook, and we’re now calling the shots: capping damages, disclosing third-party financing in plaintiffs’ cases, allowing defendants to take their case to federal court, creating federal criminal penalties for staged accidents, repealing seatbelt gag rules and banning phantom damages. 

Other issues demand the full attention of our national federation. ATA proudly stands with the California Trucking Association in its suit against the California Air Resources Board—an unelected, ill-informed band of extremists who have no clue the impact their timelines and targets will have on our economy. With a dozen more states eager to follow CARB off the cliff, California is now setting and enforcing national environmental policy, rendering federal EPA irrelevant and obsolete. 

Starting Jan. 1, 2024, California’s Advanced Clean Trucks rule takes effect, requiring the production and sale of “zero” emission equipment. CARB bullied our manufacturers, dangling credits in exchange for their right to sue. Come 2030 when California’s Advanced Clean Fleets rule kicks in, it will apply to all trucks operating in California or a CARB-adopting state.

If the goal is to reduce emissions, Congress should eliminate the century-old federal excise tax, which adds 12.5% to the price of every new tractor purchased today. That’s roughly $25,000 per power unit. Those same new trucks produce 98.5% less emissions than half of all trucks currently operating in California. Replacing them with today’s new equipment would reduce emissions in the state by 83%.  

Today our trucking federation stands stronger than ever before, but we must remain clear-eyed about the threats that seek to divide, undermine, and exploit our industry. Thanks to the engaged membership of the Arkansas Trucking Association and our federated partners around the country, our industry’s voice will continue to overpower those who wish to silence us.

Chris Spear is the CEO and president of the American Trucking Associations.

Contact Us

Arkansas Trucking Association
PO Box 3476 (72203)
1401 West Capitol Ave.
Suite 185
Little Rock, AR 72201

(501) 372-3462 | Phone
(501) 376-1810 | Fax

Our Mission

  • PROTECT the collective interests of trucking companies in the political and regulatory arenas.
  • PROMOTE the dynamics of trucking so that people have a better understanding of the link between America's primary freight delivery system and the standard of living they enjoy.
  • SERVE our members to help them to grow their business and their profits
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