Trio of Bills seek to stop California truck drivers from being exploited


Senator María Elena Durazo (D-Los Angeles), Senator Lena Gonzalez (D-Long Beach) and assemblymember Wendy Carrillo (D-Los Angeles) introduced a trio of bills designed to protect truck drivers from the Port of California and increase liability for trucking companies that mistakenly classify drivers as independent contractors Legislation is sponsored by the Blue-Green Alliance, Teamsters, Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy (LAANE) and others workers’ rights groups.

The misclassification of drivers creates unsafe conditions for these essential workers and costs California nearly $ 850 million annually.

As California continues to roll out benefits and incentives for low and zero emission truck fleets, this legislation aims to make it harder for trucking companies to falsely classify drivers as “contractors” depriving them of benefits while reaping tax incentives. Misclassification of drivers has many unfortunate side effects for drivers, including exclusion from basic benefits ranging from unemployment insurance, disability insurance, workers’ compensation and health insurance . A recent article in AJOT News on a driver strike details how complaints about COVID protections were ignored at a trucking company and how driver complaints to OSHA fell on deaf ears.

“During the COVID pandemic, this (misclassification) included a failure to provide PPE at our ports, the largest ports in the country,” Gonzalez explained at a press event promoting the legislation earlier this month. . “Disinfection of shared equipment and notification to workers of potential COVID exposure was non-existent. That’s not what California stands for. “

Gonzalez is the author of SB 338, which would create and expand the reporting of trucking companies that violate state laws on driver classification, other health and safety violations, and any liability to the State of California. This information would be publicly available so that stores and producers know who they are doing business with. The bill was passed by the Senate Judiciary Committee and will be heard by the Appropriations Committee on Monday, May 3.

Senator Maria Elena Durazo is the author of SB 700, which is also due to be heard at the Appropriations Committee next Monday. SB 700 would state that trucking companies are responsible for paying payroll taxes for UI, not the driver. Durzao, a longtime champion of labor issues, told the Sacramento Bee that “many drivers are mistakenly classified as independent contractors when their work is controlled by trucking companies.” Its legislation seeks to mitigate financial incentives to misclassify drivers.

On #WorkersMemorialDay, Ruth Cruz spoke about her husband Edwin Cruz, who died of COVID-19.  He was a driver for Universal's Southern Counties Express.  Cruz called on CA lawmakers to adopt # SB338 # SB700 and # AB794 to protect port drivers and end misclassification in ports.  Photo: LAANE / Twitter
On #WorkersMemorialDay, Ruth Cruz spoke about her husband Edwin Cruz, who died of COVID-19. He was a driver for Universal’s Southern Counties Express. Cruz called on CA lawmakers to adopt SB 338, SB 700 and AB 794 to protect port conductors and end misclassification in ports. Photo: LAANE / Twitter

The Carillo Assembly’s AB 794 is presented as a “Green New Deal” bill. Some trucking companies would have to meet certain labor standards if they were to get state incentives for the purchase of low-emission vehicles. AB 794 has already cleared Assembly committees and appears to be heading for the final passage before heading to the Senate.

# AB794 will be a game-changer in California – aligning climate change targets with labor standards for public dollar incentives for truck drivers, ”Carillo tweeted after his bill was approved by the US Transportation Committee. ‘Assembly earlier this week. “It is bold and innovative to create a real ‘just transition’ for workers.”

Indeed, environmental groups and labor groups have found a common cause in this legislative package. The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is one of the groups supporting the package. They write in a page explaining the legislation: “This bill adds high road investment criteria to ensure that disadvantaged and displaced workers enjoy quality jobs in vehicle manufacturing and truck driving. In doing so, this bill will also increase the effectiveness of the clean vehicle and clean air regulations. “

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