Operator told to ‘be the squeaky wheel’ to get Congress to listen

John Grzywacz credits his wife, Kim, for sending out letters to elected federal representatives, asking to talk with Iowa’s two U.S. senators and four U.S. representatives.

Half of them said yes: U.S. Rep. Steve King and Sens. Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst all listened to his concerns. 

Grzywacz asked Ernst if she had advice for him and other UMA members as they talk to their elected leaders about making changes in the stimulus package to better address the needs of the industry. 

John Grzywacz

“She suggests that we craft a really concise, clear, simple ask,” said Grzywacz, CEO of CIT Signature Transportation in Ames, Iowa, and board treasurer for the United Motorcoach Association. 

More important than ever

Ernst said reaching out to elected leaders is more important than ever during the COVID-19 outbreak, Grzywacz shared during the UMA Town Hall on April 16

“She said, ‘Usually, when we’re in Congress and we’re at work, we get to run into people at lunch or we talk to people in the hallway. We kind of get a sense of “wow, this is a bigger issue than I thought” because we’re talking to our colleagues. We’re stuck at home right now, so we’re not having those conversations.’”

“Literally, these were her words: ‘Be the squeaky wheel’ that gets the oil. She encouraged all of us to call our representative and make these points, make our story known,” Grzywacz said. 

UMA strategy

Ernst’s advice aligns with the strategy put together by UMA’s team, led by Ken Presley, UMA vice president, legislative & regulatory affairs & industry relations/COO, and Becky Weber, with Prime Policy Group, the UMA’s lobbying firm for the past 15 years.

Presley says a lot of research went into preparing “The Ask,” the UMA’s three-point request that addresses the biggest shortfalls for the industry in the first CARES Act, including how money tied to Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans can be spent.

“We know they are not formulated perfectly,” he said. “However, these programs already exist, and modifying them seems more likely than creating new programs; which Congress has not demonstrated any interest in.”   

This week, the Senate approved a $484 billion interim coronavirus aid bill that includes funding for the PPP and small business disaster assistance. Next, it goes to the U.S. House, which is expected to pass it and send it to the president’s desk for approval.

Reach out

In addition to participating in the UMA letter campaign efforts, members should do their best to reach out to their elected leadership to tell their personal stories, Presley encouraged. 

Grzywacz praised Ernst’s office for continuing to reach out to him and gather more information about the issues facing his company and the industry.

Unfortunately, he hadn’t had any luck scheduling conference calls with his Democratic representatives but he wasn’t giving up.

“We’ll keep trying, and I know we’re going to encourage all of our team to reach out and make their voice heard.”

Join UMA for the next online Town Hall meeting this Thursday at 2 p.m. ET on the Zoom platform to discuss the most current issues that matter to operators.

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