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TIA decides to move forward with checkoff program

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The Tire Industry Association is moving forward with its proposed checkoff program.

According to Executive Vice President Roy Littlefield, attorneys for TIA and the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA) have been at odds over whether a checkoff program could pass constitutional muster given recent federal court decisions declaring checkoff programs in other industries unconstitutional.

TIA'a attorneys felt comfortable moving forward. The RMA's attorneys "expressed strong reservations," he says.

"To examine the TIA position, we approached the University of Maryland Law School to do an impartial analysis of both positions. We contracted with a senior professor to do a study, asking him to be as honest as possible.

"We told him that if we are wrong, we want to know so we may regroup."

The professor "was very comfortable with our analysis and proposal," says Littlefield. "He thought we would be safe to proceed."

In his response to TIA, Professor William Reynolds concluded that "the training portion of the legislation probably will withstand constitutional attack, and that the consumer education component is also likely to do so.

"I must caution, however, that in the field of consitutional litigation, there is little that is certain, and all predictions have to be hedged with warnings," he continued. "Nevertheless, I believe the proposal will survive a challenge."

TIA's proposed public relations, or checkoff program, is part of the association's two-year-old Strategic Plan. TIA officials shared some of the program's details with the press at the International Tire Expo in Las Vegas in November 2002.

The checkoff program calls for tire dealers buying direct from the manufacturer to pay an additional fee per passenger and light truck tire. The fee has yet to be determined.

The money collected would be used for public relations, educational and other industry-related activities. The fund would be controlled by an "alliance" of people representing the many segments of the industry.

TIA hopes to schedule a "summit" of large volume dealers to discuss the checkoff program in the next five to six months.

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