New bipartisan legislation cutting red tape for service members so they can get the certification needed to work in the freight industry is awaiting signature by the president. Today at the Port of Cleveland, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH)--joined by a veteran from a Cleveland trucking company--outlined a new soon-to-be-law that eliminates a critical hurdle for active duty military, military reserves, or National Guard service members seeking a commercial driver's license (CDL). CNN reported in July 2012 that nearly 200,000 job openings are available in the trucking industry nationwide.
"Our service members acquire skills in the military that can translate easily to the civilian workforce. If they can operate a truck on a military base in Afghanistan, then they should be able to use those skills on the road in Ashtabula or Akron," Brown said. "But many veterans face red tape and roadblocks when they try to apply their military skills and training to the civilian job market.
"Under existing law, service members are unable to apply training received at their military installation or base toward receiving a Commercial Driver's License (CDL) in their home state," Brown added. "Now there's bipartisan legislation--soon to be signed into law--that eliminates the hurdle for service members looking to get a CDL. Now service members can meet the requirements for good-paying jobs before they become veterans."
Brown was joined by David Gutheil, vice president of Maritime & Logistics at the Port of Cleveland, to discuss how this bill will enable more service members, upon their return to civilian life, to obtain CDLs and jobs in the freight industry. They were also joined by Greg Long, an Army veteran who oversees Cleveland trucking company All Industrial Express, Inc.'s safety and licensing procedures.
"The Port of Cleveland plays an important role in the supply chain because trucking companies move cargo from our docks on a daily basis for delivery to companies across the region," said Gutheil, who previously spent 15 years in the trucking industry. "This bipartisan bill will not only will increase the supply of drivers for an industry that is experiencing a labor shortage, but will also help veterans secure employment when they return to civilian life."
The Military CDL Act, of which Brown was an original cosponsor, is a bipartisan bill that eliminates an existing law that only allows service members to obtain a CDL in their home state of record. Since many military personnel are stationed away from their home state of record, current law makes it difficult for them to apply for the license, even though they may have the adequate training to qualify for the license. The legislation is supported by the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA), the American Trucking Association (ATA), and the American Legion.