National Trucking Week is underway until September 11.

This is a great opportunity to underscore how much we appreciate our professional drivers (and all the other workers in the supply chain). We have to keep in mind that they are not nuisances; they transport most of the goods we use daily. The best way to express your appreciation and respect is to show them courtesy on the road. They really deserve it.

What’s more, many of them are Teamsters members, and I’m incredibly proud of them.

Besides the never-ending COVID-19 pandemic, professional drivers regularly face many other challenges on the road. For these workers, long hours behind the wheel, problems finding a place to pull over to rest and access to washrooms are all seriously aggravating.

Access for women is a constant challenge for sisters who want to join the industry.

The delays in deploying electronic logbooks are very disappointing. All stakeholders, including Ottawa and the provinces, agreed on the matter ages ago. Implementation, which was supposed to happen this year, has been pushed back to 2022. Yet everyone agrees that truck driver health and safety can’t wait any longer.

We also believe that training of recruits has to be upgraded to prepare our professional drivers for the challenges of tomorrow.

Reconciling work and family life, the alleged labour shortage (which is actually a lack of decent working conditions in non-union operations), exploitation of immigrant workers, and even work organization and the industry structure in North America all have to be rethought.

Reducing the industry’s greenhouse gas emissions is another concerning topic for many of us. Electrification could have positive effects, as could supply chain optimization measures.

The Teamsters Union calls on governments, businesses and transport companies to discuss these issues at regional, national and continental round tables. We can no longer afford to dodge serious debates affecting the supply chain. We have to talks about it and deal with these problems once and for all.

The challenges are many and we have a lot on our plate. But I’m confident that we can make headway on these issues and introduce positive, lasting, changes in this industry so fundamental to our economy. To do so, we must all work in close collaboration, with the common good as our objective.

This is my hope between now and the next National Trucking Week. Meanwhile, I’d like to again say a heartfelt ‘thank you’ to all truck drivers.

François Laporte
President of Teamsters Canada
Vice President of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters