California’s Assembly could vote as early as May 12 on legislation to require truckers working ports to be classified as employees.
If the Assembly passes that bill, AB 950, it will go to the Senate to repeat the legislative process. Democrat Assembly Speaker John Perez sponsored the bill, which would, in effect, ban owner-operators from working state ports.
The assembly’s labor and employment committee voted 5-1 to pass the measure on May 4.
The assembly’s analysis of the bill noted that many organizations have voiced opinions on the bill, with trucking and business organizations opposing it and labor organizations backing it.
The California Trucking Association called the legislation “the first step to eliminating independent owner-operators throughout the trucking industry,” it wrote. “Today, it is the ports. Tomorrow it will be agriculture, construction, and over the road.”
Bill supporters say truck owners cannot afford to upgrade and maintain their vehicles to California standards and that the bill would result in owner-operators having health insurance through trucking company employers.
In 2005, the California Legislature approved a bill, sponsored by the Teamsters Public Affairs Council. It would have utilized the state doctrine of federal anti-trust law to authorize port owner-operator drivers to organize collectively. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed the bill because he said it could violate federal anti-trust law.
The American Trucking Associations has appealed a lower court’s ruling in favor of the Port of Los Angeles’ requirement that port truckers be carrier employees. Oral arguments will begin June 10 in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.
In April, several entities filed amicus briefs in that case. The Intermodal Association of North America, National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, the Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence and Harbor Trucking Association filed in support of the ATA. The State of California filed the amicus brief backing the port’s case.
Ports nationwide have lobbied to replicate the Los Angeles port plan.