AUGUSTA — The Maine Senate approved a bill from Senate President Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, to protect Maine trucking jobs in a vote of 24-9 on Wednesday. LD 188, “An Act Regarding the Transportation of Products in the Forest Products Industry” would fine large trucking companies and landowners for failing to follow federal cabotage laws.
“It’s simple. All Maine truckers and loggers are asking for is that federal laws be enforced so they can do their jobs. A vote against this bill is a vote against Maine jobs, and loggers in the Maine woods won’t forget it,” said President Jackson. “Large landowners have continued to flout federal law so they pay low wages and grow their bottom-line. With this bill, we have an opportunity to hold violators accountable and protect Maine trucking jobs.”
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.
LD 188 would apply to any landowner who owns 50,000 or more acres of forest land. The penalty takes effect after three violations of federal cabotage law.
LD 188 will now go to the House for additional votes before returning to the floor of the Senate for enactment.