|A New Year Brings Many Challenges For Industry, Members and Association|
|Written by Administrator|
|Friday, 15 February 2008 12:43|
I promised to return from vacation with renewed energy to face the huge issues currently confronting us and sure enough, January is starting with a bang.
South Bay and Peninsula Chapters to Merge:
On January 9th we held a Chapter Meeting for both the South Bay and Peninsula Chapters. Both Chapters have been inactive for a number of years, so it made sense to combine the two and hope that someone would come forward and take on the Chapter Chair position. A half-way point between the two areas was the city of Cupertino. Tony Brasil of the Air Resources Board (ARB) was the guest speaker and Alison Kirk from the Bay Area Air Quality Management District told about several new programs available for funding. We sent out notices to 51 members and only 14 came, a dismal attendance for such an important issue. The Bay Area has extended their deadline for funding until April 4th, so it was agreed to hold another meeting in early March at the same location.
Smoke Testing: was held for the Sacramento Chapter on January 11th and 12th, with 69 trucks tested. Our members are doing a great job of keeping their trucks running clean, but of course I like to think that we have the “cream of the crop.” In an interesting twist, the cleanest group was the engine model years ‘94 through ‘97, who had an average of 5.6%, with slightly higher readings for the ‘98 through ‘02 with 6.1%. This is excellent, considering that the allowable limits for these years are 40%. And yet, the proposed On-road rule will eliminate these trucks from the road in 2013 or earlier, depending on fleet size. I see a catastrophe awaiting the State of California and it is not coming from Air Pollution.
Genesis Construction: Heading for Southern California on January 14th and making calls in the Central Valley along the way, it was my pleasure to attend both the Orange County and San Diego Chapter meetings. On to Hemet for the Genesis Construction story concerning their recent ARB PSIP citation (see story on page 12). I left Genesis and headed down to the Murrieta area later that day to do more fleet truck smoke testing for a contractor before heading home. The test results from the trucks I tested here were similar to the results I saw in Sacramento - Very Clean.
ARB Workshop – Sacramento: Armed with these smoke (opacity) testing statistics, I attended the ARB workshop that was held in Sacramento on January 28th. I thought for sure I was on to a solution that would judge each truck individually, versus the current proposal that would eliminate our entire fleets. I felt this could be tied directly to registrations, similar to what is now done with automobiles and smog tests. I also said that each truck in the state should be tested yearly instead of eliminating the owner-operators, as is now the case. The allowable limits could also be dramatically decreased. I also really wanted to do was make the ARB and those attending the meeting aware of the sad state of the economy in our state.
The Economic Tolls: A part of my job is taking the time to listen to you, our valued members. I know that many of you are suffering from the lack of work in the construction industry. For those who took the plunge and invested in newer trucks, without work it is becoming more difficult or impossible to make the payments. And yet as sole proprietors, the state is not currently aware of just how bad it really is, at least in our industry. That is because you aren’t a statistic on anyone’s list. Being self-employed, you are not eligible to draw unemployment and we know for sure those figures are increasing. And until your tax returns are filed, no one in government will realize that your income is down considerably. These were the points I tried to make. And yet, even though these workshops were well publicized in both the magazine and also on our website, I must admit I was disappointed that more of you did not attend. Since it is constantly raining here in the north, I don’t think a lot of you were working, so what could have possibly been more important?
The good news, if you want to call it that, is some revisions to the proposed-rule. Owner-operators will now be given one additional year, regardless of the age of your truck, until January 1, 2013. For those with two trucks, as many of our husbands and wives have, it may make the most business sense to divide the two. Of course, this would also entail a new Motor Carrier Permit and all that goes with forming a new company; however this will be your decision once you run the numbers.
And one more reminder for these desperate times we are facing. Be careful who you work for. It is a misconception among many in our industry that anyone brokering trucks has a bond or has shown some type of financial responsibility. The fact is that with de-regulation, there is no regulation for who may become a broker. What we currently have is a group of characters acting as brokers who have dispatched you, collected your money and have suddenly disappeared. Adding to the problem is the fact that some developers have deserted their projects without paying their sub-contractors and for some reason it always seems that the truckers are the ones left holding the bag.
So once again, I have written an article that is depressing and I swear I didn’t plan it that way. If I could just see a blue sky once in a while, perhaps I would feel better. Of course, the good news is, our reservoirs here in the north are reaching capacity, so we will have plenty of water this summer. I guess its all in how you look at things.
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