Our Two Cents

OBAC: What's in it for You?

While out on the recruiting trail, prospective members often ask what they get for their $45 membership fee. The fact is, you get a lot, but little you can actually carry away with you.

We could give you a ball cap, a sticker for your truck, or a t-shirt, but each of those items would drive the membership fee up incrementally. A decent hat would set us back 10 bucks; a t-shirt 25 or so; and give the sticker a buck or two. So now, your membership fee would be $75 or $80. Many of you already tell us you can't afford $45. We'd be pricing ourselves out of the market.

Think about it: are you joining OBAC to get a hat or a shirt or a sticker? We could sell you any of those individually for less than $45. We have really nifty t-shirts that say, "My speed limiter is in the driver's seat" for $25 (plus shipping, GST, etc.), and we'd love sell you one as a way of funding the drive to have the speed limiter rule changed or withdrawn.

OBAC is a not-for-profit organization representing the interests of truck drivers -- company drivers and owner-operators alike. I say not-for-profit, but we can't function as a without-revenue organization. Even $45 covers only a fraction of the costs OBAC incurs in doing your bidding with various levels of government.

So, in asking what's in OBAC for me, here's a short list of what we've accomplished so far, and while the list isn't a long one, we believe what we've done has been to the advantage of all drivers and owner-ops, not just our members.

  • OBAC persuaded the Ontario Ministry of Transportation to set aside $2.9 million for anti-idle gear for Class 8 trucks in its funding plan announced in November of 2008. MTO's original plan was to focus on Class 3-7, light and medium-duty trucks only. We got MTO to pony up as much as 30 percent toward purchases of APUs or cab heaters, and convinced them to change certain qualification requirements that would have limited participation in the program. That's a good return on a $45 investment.

  • OBAC has explained to MTO officials the patent unfairness of the current requirement that all Class A licensed drivers aged 65 and older be road tested annually in order to retain their commercial driving privileges. We're expecting an announcement from MTO sometime soon that the practice will cease in favor of performance-based retesting. Basically, only drivers with questionable records will require retesting. No big deal if you're not yet 65, but you may be someday, and because of our work, you may not need to go through the stress of possibly losing your livelihood because you had a bad day on the test course.

  • OBAC lobbied the Ministry of Finance and the Canada Revenue Agency to have the "meal tax" deductibility restored to 80 percent, and we're still working with those agencies to have the role of the sole-proprietor owner-operator clarified so that fewer are disqualified for not retaining receipts for individual meal costs.

So, while OBAC isn't moving mountains just yet, we've established a good track record of getting a small share of government largesse passed along to drivers and owner-operators.

We've presently got several more irons in the fire that will contribute to improvements in highway safety and possibly a reduction in your operating costs. That's why we're asking for your support in the form of a $45 membership fee. It's not much individually, but a whole lot of $45 contributions will go farther with OBAC than they could on their own.

OBAC is an agent of change -- your agent. You can't attend CCMTA meeting while you're on the road, and that's where the trucking rules are made. We're there defending your position and your right to make a decent living in the face of an increasingly aggressive anti-small-business lobby -- and its likely worsen if the lawmakers continue to hear only the big-business side of the story.

That's what's in it for you. If you have any questions about the benefits of joining OBAC give me a call, I'll be happy to spend some time convincing you.

To join, go to the Membership page, and click on the "Join or Renew" button. You can sign up on line quickly, easily and securely. 

Jim Park