‘Employee’ owner-operators? Not many trucking today have experienced such an arrangement

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Previously in this series: The California independent contractor crisis: Undermining the owner-operator

A significant minority of owner-operators say they have experienced a leasing arrangement with a motor carrier where they were considered an employee with taxes reported on a W-2 form.

Have you ever been considered a W2 employee as an owner-operator leasing equipment to a motor carrier?

Employee Owner Operator Poll January 2019 2019 01 31 17 05

Such a model may grow in prevalence if lawyers and litigants are successful in doing what attorney Greg Feary expects they will try to: expand a recent court ruling so as to define an independent contractor more narrowly. If more owner-operators move into employee status, more opportunities will arise for collective bargaining and union representation for those who see no value in the independent contractor status.

Comments under the poll indicated some owner-operators might not understand the difference between independent contractors and employees. One commenter noted he was an employee of the fleet but received 1099 tax forms rather than a W-2. (Issuance of 1099s indicates the carrier considers that trucker to be an independent contractor, not an employee.)

Another comment illustrated what it might take for a carrier exploring an employee-owner-operator model to sway the proudly independent among owner-operators: “If employee is anywhere in my job description, I better have medical, dental, vision, 401(k), paid vacation and all holidays paid, including time and a half after 40 hours! And when I park my truck, I turn in my pre-trip/post-trip to the shop, hang my key on the hook and get in my car and … see y’all in the morning!”

Next in this series: A small fleet v. the Teamsters

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