The OOIDA-ATA battle breaks out into a full verbal brawl, all in public

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The always tense relationship between the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association and the American Trucking Associations blew up in full verbal war over the last two days.  

The battle was kicked off by comments made by the head of the ATA and reported by DC Velocity, which had a reporter at the Nasstrac Shipper Conference and Expo in Orlando. At that meeting, ATA President Chris Spear described some of OOIDA’s stances as “meaningless,” called it “combative,” and said he doesn’t “lose sleep” over OOIDA’s mission, “how it implements it, and the struggles it faces,” according to the news report. 

“In an extraordinary series of comments, Spear said that he and his family have received death threats from OOIDA interests, that persons affiliated with OOIDA interests have threatened to bomb ATA’s headquarters in Arlington, Va., and that OOIDA interests have labeled an ATA executive vice president—who Spear did not identify–a child molester,” the report said.

That brought a quick rebuttal from Todd Spencer, the acting president of OOIDA.

The charge that “questionable tactics” and “harm” have been threatened against ATA officials “is patently false.”

Spear, according to the Spencer statement, “doesn’t even recognize his pursuit of divisive policies and use of disparaging words have fueled the acrimony not only in our industry, but among his own members.” “It appears that as we remain committed to being the lone, loud voice representing the truckers that the ATA has little to no regard for, Mr. Spear simply feels ATA’s positions and policies are vulnerable, and he is lashing out with falsehoods and misrepresentations,” Spencer said.

The latest dispute between OOIDA and the ATA is over the so-called Denham amendment, which would reassert federal dominance over such trucker rules as hours of service and mandated breaks. The ATA is in favor of the Denham amendment; OOIDA is opposed. The amendment was included in the FAA appropriations bill passed late last month by the House of Representatives. It still needs Senate and conference committee approval.

The two associations also have long been on opposite sides of the ELD mandate, OOIDA opposed, ATA more accepting of the new requirement.

The prepared—and less candid—formal statement by the ATA in response to its president’s comments, and the OOIDA response, was far less combative than Spear’s Orlando remarks.

“As I understand it, at the conclusion of his remarks and presentation (Spear) was asked specifically about the OOIDA issue and offered a candid response based on the experiences of ATA staff in recent months,” ATA spokesman Sean McNally said. “That said, ATA’s mission is to secure victories on behalf of our industry and our members. We’ve worked hard to build broad coalitions, reaching out to those who have an interest in the future of this industry, including OOIDA, and we will continue to do so as we advocate on behalf of the entire trucking industry. We hope OOIDA’s members can see the value in joining the broader industry and support change.”

According to the DC Velocity report, Spear also brought up the issue of allowing drivers under the age of 21 to drive interstate. “Where is OOIDA on this issue,” the news service quoted Spear as saying, “voicing wonder why the group wouldn’t back a bill that would create more opportunity for its members.”

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John Kingston

John has an almost 40-year career covering commodities, most of the time at S&P Global Platts. He created the Dated Brent benchmark, now the world’s most important crude oil marker. He was Director of Oil, Director of News, the editor in chief of Platts Oilgram News and the “talking head” for Platts on numerous media outlets, including CNBC, Fox Business and Canada’s BNN. He covered metals before joining Platts and then spent a year running Platts’ metals business as well. He was awarded the International Association of Energy Economics Award for Excellence in Written Journalism in 2015. In 2010, he won two Corporate Achievement Awards from McGraw-Hill, an extremely rare accomplishment, one for steering coverage of the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster and the other for the launch of a public affairs television show, Platts Energy Week.

One Comment

  1. OOIDA all the way, ATA can go piss up a rope!!! And here’s one for ATA?

  2. All for OOIDA, as they do fight for small business beliefs and needs and they do it with class. Never once have they involved threatning behavior in any of thier calls to action. Change is not a bad thing if done in ways that are more helpful than harmful and the ATA is notorious for backing harmful and unsafe regulatory changes. It seems that thier "coallition" is more about lining political pockets to help themselves achieve a larger driver pool, for example: allowing drivers as young as 18 to run interstate without enough experience driving to ensure safety for the public, in order to increase profits for mega fleets. This is not a change that is necessary for safety, this is all about finances. Nor is it going to be beneficial for the industry as a whole. I see it doing more harm than good in the future of the trucking industry. The ATA does NOT represent the industry, they represent themselves only.

  3. Who’s filling the ATA pockets with bribes? Don’t see any good to come from the ATA.

  4. I’m all for OOIDA. I hope ATA goes to hell. Especially after coming up with the idea of having 18-21 year olds driving trucks across the states. To me, that’s a BIG NO NO. No, absolutely not. To ATA, it means money for them. Shame on ATA. And as for Denham amendment. You can forget about it. I will not have some non profit organization regulate my wages. Screw that. If I am qualified for a promotion or a raise in my wages, it damn will happen, whether you ATA big shots like it or not.

    Why in the world are you trying to monopolize the trucking industry? You got enough companies out there. You don’t need more drivers. You need to get rid of all these extra trucks you got sitting around waiting for drivers.

    It is very clear that drivers do not want to work for you because you are micromanaging their livelihoods. They are not bunch of kids. They don’t need babysitters.

    You give them a load with pickup and delivery appointments and they will take care of it THEMSELVES. Not dispatch. Not brokers. Not fleet managers. Nobody but trained, experienced drivers.

    You know why drivers don’t know what they’re doing? It’s bscause you members or ATA shoved them young people through training and threw them in the trucks and now you’re barking up orders on them making them look like a bunch of stupid people.

    Shame on you. Train them. Teach them. Respect them. Give them what they deserve. A respectable living.

    Go to hell, Spears.

  5. Independents don’t want or need ATA speaking for us, our goals are not similar. ATA supports large companies who take advantage of drivers for corporate gain, OOIDA supports independents, small businesses who encourage individuals to succeed and compet against big business. We will never have the same goals.

  6. So Mr.Spears , the man who likes to call small business owners actions on their own behalf " inconsequential ", and " amateur" is upset ??? You sir, represent the largest threat to our industry by far, that would be the " Get a butt in that seat fast and cheap " minimal training,no work ethics, no common sense mega carriers. So everytime you see one of the Big guys trucks u-turning through the median, hitting stationary objects, backing into other trucks you should know , Sir, that is YOUR circus, and those most assuredly are YOUR monkeys.
    You and your organization created this mess by lobbying for your corporate masters, is it any wonder those you only consider long enough to insult them are fighting back, and stand against you???

  7. No to younger drivers. An ATA you only represent a small group of the trucking industry. I do not agree with you. And you don’t represent me.

  8. Screw the ATA, I’m not currently an owner operator, but I have family that is and OOIDA has been good to us over the years, even with short comings. ATA, on the other hand has just about single handedly destroyed the trucking industry as a whole.

  9. BIG FAT THANKS FOR ELDs ATA! ..I’m now working a real estate job ..suck on it you big Carrier lovin bastards ..

  10. The ATA has never been a supporter of DRIVER issues, it exists to advance the interests of TRUCKING MANAGEMENT issues.

  11. ATA, The "Anti Trucking Alliance" would rather us all be ran as robots instead of free people. Just look at the crap they support! The reasons why I got into this industry are now long gone & it’s completely depressing

  12. It’s definently time for a nationwide strike, we’ve been pushed around enough by these greedy, money hungry fools. Enough is enough it’s time to park! We need OOIDA to announce the date and make it go viral!

  13. There was no reason for Spears to go off on OOIDA. A polite sometimes we agree and sometimes we don’t would have sufficed. OOIDA does need to look in the mirror though. Real truckers? If OOIDA wants to expand they need to check that "You’re not a real trucker." attitude.