SAN DIEGO — American Trucking Associations President and CEO Chris Spear touted the group’s legal and legislative victories over the past year, striking an aggressive tone during his address at the 2022 ATA Management Conference & Exhibition Monday.
“Your association’s primary objective is winning — winning on behalf of the members of this great industry. So no matter who the electorate sends to Washington, that is our objective.” Spear said. “We don’t get paid to point fingers. Partisanship is not a crutch. You’re doing your job under the toughest circumstances. And your association must do the same.”
During a 25-minute speech at the San Diego Convention Center, Spear discussed the association’s efforts on behalf of its members in a difficult regulatory, recruiting and economic environment. He recalled the ATA’s successful Supreme Court challenge of an OSHA vaccine mandate that faced fierce opposition from the trucking industry.
Spear derided a Rhode Island program to toll Class 8 trucks, calling it a scam, and celebrated a federal judge’s ruling last month declaring it unconstitutional, following an ATA lawsuit. The state has appealed the decision.
“From the Eastern Seaboard to the Mountain West,” Spear said, “any state debating a similar target on our industry has now received an unmistakable message: Don't mess with trucking.”
Spear also underscored the ATA’s role in advocating for the eventual $1.2 trillion Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which contains a 38% increase in road and bridge funding across the country. Association officials testified 25 times before the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives in favor of the legislative package, he said.
“The last administration talked a good game and [proposed a] number as high as $2 trillion in funding,” Spear said. “But after four years in office, including two with the House and Senate majority, Republicans never introduced an infrastructure bill. Not a single piece of legislation. Or as we say in Wyoming, all hat, no cattle.”
Spear noted the ATA’s relocation of its headquarters back to “the doorstep of decisionmakers” in Washington, D.C. for the first time in nearly four decades. He promised the coming year would yield more collaboration with federal legislators and regulators, including the Environmental Protection Agency on emissions reduction goals.
“Your association is stronger now than ever before,” he said.