Biden DOL a step closer to rolling back Trump-era worker classification rule

Trucking news and briefs for Friday, Oct. 6, 2023:

Biden’s DOL takes another step toward rescinding Trump-era independent contractor rule

A Department of Labor rulemaking to rescind a Trump-era rule for determining employee or independent contractor classification under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) has taken another step toward being implemented.

The Biden Administration’s DOL last October published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that would reverse one of President Donald Trump's last acts in office by returning to the department's prior analysis for worker classification under FLSA. The full text of the NPRM can be seen here.

On Sept. 28, the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) received the final rule, which if cleared by OMB, will be published in the Federal Register to take effect. OMB typically has 90 days to review the rule, but that review period can be extended.

The Trump-era rule, which was one of the last acts of the former president’s administration, had a test to determine if a worker was independent or an employee that relied on five factors, but put greater emphasis on two -- the nature and degree of the worker’s control over the work and the worker’s opportunity for profit or loss.

The other factors include: the amount of skill required for the work; the degree of permanence of the working relationship between the worker and the potential employer; and whether the work is part of an integrated unit of production.

That rule took effect in March 2022, following a court ruling striking down the Biden DOL's withdrawal of the rule a year earlier. 

Biden’s DOL said that the 2021 rule, which made it slightly easier to classify workers as contractors, was "out of sync with what courts have been saying for decades," and it hoped returning to the prior analysis for classification determination would clear up "confusion" among businesses and workers and hopefully see more low-wage workers receive benefits and overtime pay as is required by the FLSA. 

The previous test, which DOL now hopes to restore, has six factors all weighted equally in what it calls "a totality-of-the circumstances analysis" which considers the worker's "economic reality."

[Related: National Labor Relations Board, again, alters independent contractor classification standard]

Pilot Flying J crowns its Road Warriors

Don Crouse PFJ Road WarriorDon Crouse won PFJ's Road Warrior grand prize.Pilot Flying JPilot Flying J has named the winners of its annual Road Warrior contest, which recognizes the hard work, dedication, commitment and sacrifice of professional truck drivers who go the extra mile to keep America moving.

After reviewing countless deserving nominations, Pilot Flying J selected Don Crouse of Bruceville, Indiana, as the $15,000 grand prize Road Warrior winner. Truckers Final Mile founder Robert Palm, of Albuquerque, New Mexico, was named the $10,000 second-place winner, and Angelique Temple of Ruther Glen, Virginia, as the $5,000 third place winner.

Robert Palm PFJ Road WarriorTruckers Final Mile founder Robert Palm was PFJ's second-place Road Warrior winner.Pilot Flying J"It was inspiring to read the nominations celebrating professional drivers' heroism, dedication and selfless acts of kindness," said Adrienne Ingoldt, vice president of brand and marketing for Pilot Flying J. "At every turn and with each mile driven, these professional drivers go above and beyond to help people and communities along the way. Thank you and congratulations to Don, Robert and Angelique on this well-deserved recognition of your contributions and many years of driving."

Crouse has been a professional truck driver for over 50 years and currently drives for Boyd Grain out of Washington, Indiana. As a mentor and advocate for the trucking industry, he has helped guide new drivers into careers over the road. For the last 15 years, Crouse has dedicated time as a volunteer with Wreaths Across America to deliver wreaths to veterans' cemeteries in several states. He and his wife have started Wreaths Across America ceremonies in six locations across southwestern Indiana.

Palm, a U.S. Army veteran, has been in the trucking industry for over 40 years. Passionate about serving fellow drivers and their families, he founded Truckers Final Mile, an organization designed to reunite drivers and their families in times of crisis. In 2015, Palm and his wife created a new program to support children during their first Christmas after losing a truck driver parent on the highway.

Angelique Temple PFJ Road WarriorAngelique Temple was named PFJ's third-place Road Warrior winner.Pilot Flying JWith over 20 years behind the wheel, Temple continues to inspire women in the trucking industry, guide young drivers and dedicate countless hours to helping those in need in her community. Her expertise and commitment to trucking have earned her a spot as a panel member for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and an induction into the Howes Hall of Fame. In 2023, Temple participated in the Make-A-Wish Mother's Day Truck Convoy, contributing to the cause of granting more wishes to children with critical illnesses.

Driver recognized for helping injured woman at crash site

The Truckload Carriers Association has named truck driver Davinder Singh Chahal, of Winnipeg, Manitoba, a Highway Angel for stopping to help an injured woman at a crash site. Chahal drives for Bison Transport out of Winnipeg.

Davinder Singh ChahalDavinder Singh ChahalOn May 16 at 8:35 a.m., Chahal was traveling on Highway 1 near Highway 206 in Winnipeg. He was the first on the scene of an accident -- many other vehicles passed by without stopping. A woman, Yvonne, sustained serious injuries and Chahal cared for her until EMS and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police arrived on scene. Others at the scene would not touch her, but Chahal took great care of her.

“I said, ‘she needs help,’ -- she had glass all over her, so I cleaned it off her feet and her body, like she was my mother,” said Chahal, who is originally from India. “This is my duty, because this country -- Canada -- has given me a lot, and sometimes you have to repay that.”

Chahal continued to look after her, comforting her to try to keep her calm. EMT rescue workers came and took her away in an ambulance. Days after the incident, Yvonne contacted Bison Transport to express her gratitude to Chahal, who had never mentioned any of the details to his dispatch. No one would have known about his kindness if it wasn’t for her calling in.

“Then she called me one day and said, ‘I’m alive because you saved me,’” Chahal said. “She attached with me emotionally -- she told me, ‘I am your mother.’”