California truckers protesting AB5 | cbs8.com
About 70% of truckers serving ports in the state are owner-operators.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Truckers protested this week at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, and have other plans to demonstrate Monday at the Port of Oakland. They are thwarted by a California law that changes the framework for independent contractors.
In extremely simple terms, the law requires many independent contractors to become regular employees of the company or operate as a small business on their own and obtain the appropriate license and insurance, which, according to California Trucking Association, is not so easy and very expensive. .
The law is not technically new. Governor Gavin Newsom signed it in 2019, but it was immediately sued and blocked. The U.S. Supreme Court recently decided not to take the case, meaning California law is now in effect.
While the images of trucks protesting AB5 and slowing traffic on LA freeways through ports at a time when the global supply chain is already suffering are not welcoming, no supply chain disruption has been reported.
“In ports generally, more than 70 percent of the trucks serving ports are owner-operators,” said Eric Sauer of the California Trucking Association.
Disruptions to come
The association said there would be disruption soon.
“Essentially what the state is telling them (entrepreneurs) right now is that you can be a company driver/employee, but I think what you’re seeing with the actions in the southern ports of the California is those owner-operators, independent contractors, don’t want to be salaried drivers, they want to stay owner-drivers.
Republican Assemblyman Kevin Kiley called it “the worst law California has ever passed.”
“If you just call someone an employee contract, even if they’re actually an employee, that wasn’t allowed before AB5,” Kiley said. “AB5 though, put it in this whole new set of rules that made it impossible for people who voluntarily chose to be independent contractors because that’s what works for them to do. So that’s where what the problem is.”
Over the past decade, drivers at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach have challenged their classification as “independent contractors” and tried to prove their rights as regular employees for things like wage standards, health insurance and break times required.
In fact, there is currently a labor stalemate among port railway workers who wish to be classified as regular employees, adding to supply chain stress.
The bill’s author, former MP-turned-union leader Lorena Gonzales is on vacation and was unable to do an interview, but posted on social media about it.
She said AB5 makes companies financially secure for misclassifications today and years past.
“No wonder they’re revving so hard and lying to the driver about it,” Gonzales said. “You can deposit salary arrears here.”
It’s unclear how this will be enforced, the California Trucking Association said it was still awaiting details. The association represents more than a thousand trucking companies in the state, companies that would have to raise costs if they were to bring more employees under their umbrella.
Not all truckers are against ab5.
This does not apply to all independent contractors, such as ride-sharing employees, for example. Voter-passed Proposition 22 exempts app-based transportation and delivery companies from providing benefits to certain drivers
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