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Ask now, before you sign

With the trucking industry seemingly always getting the short end of the stick from government and the mainstream media in general, it's important to have a strong, unified voice that can stand up and...


With the trucking industry seemingly always getting the short end of the stick from government and the mainstream media in general, it’s important to have a strong, unified voice that can stand up and speak on its behalf.

Fortunately, the trucking industry has a number of associations that have established themselves as a very credible and useful liaison between the drivers on the highway and the folks who make decisions in your provincial or federal legislature.

The Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) comes to mind. It’s been said by the government that the CTA is one of the most effective lobby groups in existence.

There are other groups as well that focus on smaller segments of the industry and they are equally useful. The newly-formed Owner-Operator’s Business Association of Canada (OBAC) is one. However, with a growing number of associations springing up and trying to recruit new members, there are a few questions you should take the time to ask before parting with your hard-earned money.

Here are just a few:

What’s in it for me? Well-managed associations should be able to provide money-saving opportunities such as group buying power. In some cases, fuel, insurance and equipment discounts for members will result in a savings far greater than the cost of membership. Be sure to find out what’s available and take advantage of it.

How is the group funded? Some associations are fully-funded by their membership, while others rely on government for support. If the association is government-funded, ask yourself if it can truly be counted on to represent your interests when lobbying the very government that controls its purse strings. In some cases, maybe it can, but you should be satisfied the group can do so before signing on.

Who is representing me? Who sits on the board of directors and who is at the head of the association? Is this a credible individual or someone who will serve his or her own agenda? Ask around and see what kind of reputation the leaders have – after all, you’re judged by the company you keep.

How’s my money being spent? The association should be able to provide you with a summary of how your membership dues were spent. If a group is giving its board of directors $1,000 per diem when they meet, you have the right to know about it.

What have you done for me lately? Even if it’s a relatively new association, it should have an action plan in place. Many of the association’s key people may have been involved with other groups participating in various lobbying efforts. This is useful in determining how dedicated and effective the group will be.

How can I get involved? Sending in your membership dues and then kicking back to reap the benefits is one way to get involved in an association. However, if you’re a proactive individual who wants to have a say in how the association is run, you should have that opportunity. Ask how you can get involved. Good associations encourage involvement from their members, while others are little more than old boy’s clubs with no interest in seeing fresh faces infiltrating their clique.

If an association can provide satisfactory answers to the above questions, you’ll stand to benefit much more from signing up. Associations play an important role in the trucking industry and everyone who is involved in this industry should belong to at least one. However, some are better than others, and doing your homework will ensure you have more to show for your money in the end.

James Menzies can be reached by phone at 416-442-2268 or by e-mail at jamesmenzies@shaw.ca


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