The Tire Industry Association envisions a national alliance on tire safety, research and education to be funded by an industry checkoff, should TIA's plan come to fruition.
The Bowie, Md.-based association described its preliminary plan in detail in a December news release. It proposed a National Tire Safety, Research and Education Act to be introduced in Congress to create the alliance.
While TIA still is discussing the concept of a checkoff program with the Rubber Manufacturers Association, the two groups have yet to agree on a plan. And Chuck Space, executive director of the Texas Tire Dealers Association-which voted to oppose the program-said his organization hasn't yet had a chance to consider the details as TIA has described them.
If approved by Congress, the bill would authorize a checkoff, or assessment-the amount of which has not yet been determined-on each new replacement highway vehicle tire manufactured or imported into the U.S., the TIA release stated. The alliance would collect the assessment at the first point of sale. U.S. tire makers would advise the alliance of the numbers of tires sold and the purchasers, and the alliance would send each manufacturer a quarterly invoice.
The U.S. Customs Service would collect fees for imported tires, under contract to the alliance. At no point would any money go to the government, TIA stressed.
The alliance's board of directors-representing tire manufacturers, dealers, marketers, importers and other industry professionals-would determine the direction and specific projects of the program, with each member having one vote. The alliance's bylaws would expressly forbid the use of any checkoff funds for lobbying or consumer advertising; instead, the money would be dedicated to consumer education, employee safety and training and industry research and development.
Although the alliance would have a full-time professional staff to implement the board's will, the congressional mandate would limit the level of administrative expenses, TIA said.
These details are ``nothing new,'' a spokesman for the RMA said. He said they were essentially the same ideas TIA floated at the Specialty Equipment Market Association/International Tire Expo in Las Vegas last November and elsewhere.
The Texas Tire Dealers Association board of directors voted to oppose the checkoff concept, fearing it would end up becoming a backdoor tax on the industry. Mr. Space said the TTDA received a letter from TIA in December detailing the preliminary plans for the checkoff program, ``but other than receiving the letter, I don't think our board members have had a chance to consider it.''
TIA and RMA members met in Washington with their attorneys Dec. 12 for further discussions on the checkoff program. No decisions were reached at that meeting, said Roy E. Littlefield III, TIA executive vice president, and another meeting hadn't yet been scheduled at presstime.
RMA President Donald B. Shea said the only conclusion reached at the Dec. 12 meeting was that ``we still see a substantial legal hurdle'' to establishing an industry checkoff program. Mr. Shea referred to the decisions of two federal appeals courts declaring unconstitutional the checkoff programs of the beef and pork producers. Nevertheless, TIA said there are more than 60 existing industry checkoff programs in the U.S. today.