Our friend Oliver Patton at Trucking Info writes an article titled “Immigration Reform could effect truck driver pool” in which he says;
President Obama’s plan, for example, would provide undocumented immigrants a legal way to earn citizenship by requiring them to pass background checks, pay taxes and a penalty, go to the back of the immigration line and learn English.
If citizenship is a step too far, politically, another idea on the table is to create a guest worker status for illegals.
Either alternative could significantly increase the number of potential truck drivers, although anyone interested in that work would have to meet FMCSA requirements for a CDL.
It’s an issue that American Trucking Associations is following with interest, said Dave Osiecki, senior vice president of policy and regulatory affairs.
Jim Park, director of Technical and Regulatory Affairs for OBAC, and host of the top of the hour truckers news on SiriusXM 106 reports the idea of a guest worker program for undocumented workers could solve the impending driver shortage crisis and it goes ballistic from there.
Callers to the Dave Nemo Show expressing their outrage that a de facto effort is underway to give the undocumented commercial drivers licenses and put them in the seat of “our” trucks, taking away jobs from deserving “Amerikuns” and on the overnight trucking show, America’s Trucking Network (ATN) callers spouting more of the same disinformation, proclaiming their outrage and veiled threats to make certain it ain’t happening in their country.
Fact of the matter is, Immigration Reform and an attached guest worker program is likely not to have any effect, one way or the other on the supposed driver shortage in the United States.
The driver shortage. Some claim we’ll need 200,000 more drivers before 2015. One of the talking heads on the overnight claimed between 200,0000 and 800,000. Kind of hard to wrap you mind around numbers like that.
This is nothing new though. In November 2005, on a until now, unknown little blog called “Road Drivers Blog”, the owner wrote,
President Bush and the Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff are pushing a new and improved version of employing immigrants. It has been dubbed as a guest worker program.
The plan will allow Mexicans to come north with jobs already in place. One area of shortages in the job market is professional CDL drivers. This plan will put many Teamster jobs at risk.
Never happened though, did it?
The immigration reform proposals being worked out now would provide “legalization” for the estimated 6 to 11 million undocumented in this country. It would also provide a path to citizenship for those who chose to learn English, and go to the back of the non existent “line”, a process that could take as long as 15 years or more. And other than the “Dreamers”, those who were brought here as children, and have been raised and consider themselves Americans, others that would benefit from a guest worker program would be poorly educated laborers for who a career in truck driving would not be an option.
And why are we worried about this, other than some are offended that a Mexican might be allowed a step up in this country?
There has existed for decades a visa program called the H-2B Non Agriculture Worker visa that could be applied by employers to bring Mexican truckers to this country to live and work. The requirements? All the employer has to do is prove he cannot fill the available positions from the US labor pool. This is how we’re getting a lot of the eastern European drivers we find terrorizing our highways.
These are the conditions for a H2B Visa
1.There are not enough U.S. workers who are able, willing, qualified, and available to do the temporary work.
2. The employment of H-2B workers will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed U.S. workers.
And why does anyone think we need a guest worker program to train migrants from Mexico to drive a big rig? Anyone realize what that would entail? We simply don’t see it happening.
DISCLAIMER The mention of Oliver Patton and Jim Park is in no way intended to be a criticism of the fine work they do reporting on the trucking industry.