Our Two Cents


You've probably heard the expression, "it takes big bucks to play with big trucks." I say "play" in a metaphorical sense, because I know how much hard work goes into keeping a trucking business on the road. But the same thing applies to those who work with folks who play with big trucks.

In other words, I can't run OBAC on thin air. What follows is an unabashed and unapologetic plea for your financial support through membership.

OBAC needs resources to keep up with the workload and to move forward, and frankly, we don't have the money to pay for the kind of help I need. Many of you may not realize that I am OBAC's sole staff person. Our Board of Directors, who carry out a policy and advisory role, are all volunteers; the folks you see wearing the OBAC colours and helping out at truck shows are all contributing personal time and paying their own expenses to support the organization.

I've talked to hundreds of you over the past months about the challenges that lie ahead for drivers and owner-ops and the need for a strong, national advocate like OBAC. I get many calls and e-mails asking for advice and information on just about everything – surcharges, rates, contracts, accounting questions, warranty issues, regulations – and I get tons of suggestions about products and services you'd like to see available to truckers. But only a fraction of those conversations result in someone joining the association, and that troubles me. How do you think the work that needs doing is going to get done? 

Take the speed-limiter issue, for example. I've heard loud and clear from practically everyone I've spoken to that government-mandated speed-limiters just can't be allowed to happen. Many of you are adamant that nobody is ever going to put a speed-limiter on your truck.

Well, let me tell you, if this idea passes into law, you'll have a speed-limiter on the truck. How they'll enforce governed engines remains to be seen, but I doubt they'll buy the "over my dead body" routine. Writing letters to politicians is helpful, but it doesn't stop there. In case you haven't noticed, OBAC and the Private Motor Truck Council are the only two groups in Canada voicing opposition to the CTA proposal, and if we hope to succeed in showing government that this plan is not in everyone's best interest, we need more than letters.

We can make a strong case against CTA's safety and environmental claims, and most importantly, we can show the uselessness and inappropriateness of government mandating a business and operational decision that carriers and individual truck owners should be making on their own.

But advocacy doesn't come cheap. It takes a huge amount of resources to research the facts and figures upon which to make a reasoned argument, to prepare and distribute documents, to meet bureaucrats and politicians, and I can't do this without help and money.

Over the past couple of years, OBAC has made some pretty important friends in Ottawa and around the country, and the folks who contribute to the rulemaking process are rather happy to have another opinion from the trucking community at the table. For years, the carrier associations have been bending the ear of government, but that has left the interests and views of a huge segment of the industry unheard. And believe it or not, officials and bureaucrats are telling me they welcome the input from drivers and owner-operators.

I want to make it clear to all my friends in the carrier community that OBAC is not at all predisposed to disagree with every idea put forward by the carrier associations. Indeed, in more cases than not, carriers and drivers are not on different sides of the issue, just on different sides of the steering wheel. We're not out there striving to defeat any particular carrier idea or concept – save this current one – or oppose regulation and policy willy-nilly. We just want to ensure the voice of the driver is heard before decisions are made.

Another strong voice at the table is a positive move for the industry, and OBAC has provided that in several debates to date. We've brought the opinions of drivers and owner-ops to the table in discussions on hours of service, border security, truck/rail safety, and driver training, for starters, and there are so many more we could get involved in if we had the resources.

I've had plenty of interest in corporate sponsorship from industry suppliers, mostly in the form of modest one-time contributions, but even then, when I approach these folks for help, the first question they always ask is, "how many members do you have?" And believe me, when I can tell them that our members buy millions of dollars worth of their stuff every year, just see how fast they'll come to the table with discounts and incentives. The potential for group buying power is huge, but that's the thing – first of all we need the group.

So if you think it's important for your voice to be heard, if you see value in relevant and timely information, if you want group buying power, I'd sure appreciate a cheque. The annual fee of $45 – less than $1 a week – would help tremendously in continuing the work we've been doing. That's a pretty modest investment in your future.

And just to be clear, while our name might suggest we're an owner-operator association, company drivers are welcome as full voting members. And so are non-driving spouses and partners, because more often than not, trucking is a family concern. We provide tools and information geared to making owner-ops more successful business owners, but when we bring your voice to the table with policy makers and regulators, we’re fighting for the rights of all professional truckers; the issues we tackle affect everyone behind the wheel.

We've survived four years now despite a huge financial setback at the outset, largely because this organization is so very much needed. Just think what we could accomplish with all of you on board! Membership doesn't cost – it pays.