AUGUSTA — A bill from Senate President Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, to protect Maine trucking jobs became law without the governor’s signature Friday, June 18. LD 188, “An Act Regarding the Transportation of Products in the Forest Products Industry” would fine large landowners and the offending motor carrier for failing to follow federal cabotage.
“All Maine workers are asking for is a level-playing field to compete in our economy and provide for their families whether they are hauling loads in the northern Maine woods or fishing along the coast. However, the failure to enforce federal cabotage laws has put the livelihoods of Maine loggers and wood-haulers in jeopardy,” said President Jackson. “After two decades of allowing this to continue at the expense of Maine loggers and truckers, the state is finally stepping up to hold large landowners and trucking companies that knowingly violate the law accountable. It’s time for folks to follow the law or face serious consequences — something that is long overdue.”
The term “cabotage” refers to point-to-point truckloads in the United States. Under federal law, Canadian drivers are allowed to deliver international shipments into the US and then pick up a load to be delivered back to Canada. However, at no time can a driver deliver their initial load in the US, pick up a subsequent load in the US and deliver that load to another destination within the country.
In the Maine woods, large landowners use Canadian truck drivers to deliver loads within the state at a cheaper rate, which violates federal cabotage law, depresses the wages and eliminates Maine trucking jobs. Canadian drivers can perform the same job as Maine truck drivers at a cheaper rate due to a favorable exchange rate and their national health care system.
The new law takes effect 90 days after the Maine Legislature adjourns sine die.