Truck News


Taking exception to comments from OBAC leader Ritchie

Dear Editor:

Dear Editor:

I’d like to respond to comments published on pg. 12 of your May 2008 edition of Truck News.

For one, I question how the publishing of insults does anything to better our industry or further any legitimate cause. It is one thing to allow editorial space to fairly represent all sides of a business issue…It is quite another to put name calling to print, at least in a legitimate business publication.

The latest comments made by (OBAC executive director) Joanne Ritchie in the May edition of Truck News are completely uncalled for, even under the “guise” of free speech.

The comment I refer to, is: “MTO is pandering to a handful of carriers who are either too cheap, too lazy or too greedy to compete fairly. Rather than pay their drivers a decent rate, invest in training, and anti-idle technology, and implement internal safety and compliance regimes, these carriers have bamboozled government into taking these responsibilities off their shoulders.”

When someone who is supposed to be representing any part of our industry goes on record to say “as industry, we are cheap, lazy and greedy,” they damage the credibility of everyone, including the vital group of owner/operators that she has been chosen to represent.

Imagine what the shippers, who themselves are desperately struggling under the burden of high energy costs must think when reading Ms. Ritchie’s comments.

They are aware that these same large fleets “establish” the market here in Ontario.

Are these carriers really underinvested? Are they wasteful and in a position of profit, at my expense?

Am I being fed a line to justify the fact that the fuel surcharge is now almost a third of my transportation spend and carriers are greedily profiting at my expense?

Thankfully, the industry has done a remarkable job progressing on all fronts, and if one bothered to do 15 minutes of legitimate research they can see that this industry, headed up by many upstanding fleets who work tirelessly with OTA to make sure our industry is secure, is neither cheap, lazy or greedy.

This industry has never been more invested than it is today and collectively we have never worked harder for such meager returns.

These same fleets are investing in fuel-efficient technology such as tires, trailer belly fairings and other advanced aerodynamics. They are passing along the savings of bulk purchasing for things such as APUs, fuel, tires and maintenance.

They provide and share fuel optimization software to help minimize off route miles and make smart fuel purchases known.

And finally, as fleets research and adopt fuel-saving technology it becomes cheaper and more affordable for all.

All of these things have a direct benefit for any owner/operator associated with them or this industry.

Our drivers and owner/operators are the most educated, welltrained and safest in all of North America. They are also among the highest paid, to the point where our competition to the south now holds a considerable advantage when competing for international freight.

And if we are talking about competition, we should be worried about modes of transportation and finding ways to support our shippers and protect our very industry.

I am not concerned about competing with other truckers as much as I am concerned about developing a sustainable transportation strategy that is affordable and keeps my customers in business so I have a chance to be profitable long-term.

These policies make strong safety and economic sense and represent sound business practices which I am sure our customers look at with genuine appreciation. I understand both sides of the speed limiter issue and recognize the disappointment in one’s perceived right to decide how to run their own business, but in this case the good outweighs the bad.

I believe all of the relevant business points have been debated and for the sake of our entire industry, please feel free to publish those over and over again.

Save Ms. Ritchie’s name-calling excerpts for the National Enquirer, as they only serve to cast doubt on an industry that is literally carrying our nation’s economy on our backs. We have earned the right to be treated fairly and with respect.

Robert Penner

Vice-president, operations Bison Transport

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