The Harbor Truck Association (HTA) reported that on July 13th, harbor truckers were protesting at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach following the U.S. Supreme Court decision not to challenge California’s Assembly Bill 5 (AB5) requiring owner/ operator truck drivers be treated as employees.
Assembly Bill 5 (AB5) authored by former Assembly Member Lorena Gonzalez was passed and signed into law in 2019.
On June 30th, the Supreme Court denied a petition for a writ of certiorari brought by the California Trucking Association (CTA), paving the way for full enforcement of the law.
At his monthly press briefing on July 13th, Port of Los Angeles executive director Gene Seroka said there had been peaceful protests by truckers at the Port but no disruptions. Seroka praised the collaboration between harbor truckers and Port of Los Angeles police.
At the briefing, Seroka was joined by retired General Stephen R. Lyons, the recently appointed Port and Supply Chain Envoy to the Biden-Harris Administration Supply Chain Disruptions Task Force. Lyons praised the role of harbor truck drivers and noted the need to hire more drivers.
A statement issued by HTA said the impact of the Supreme Court decision will be to implement AB5: “Once the injunction (against AB5) is lifted, which is any day now, provisions in the bill will prevent independent owner operator truck drivers from contracting with other trucking companies for services, essentially paving the way to an employee model.”
An injunction in place since 2020 had prevented the law from being enforced while a lawsuit on the bill made its way through the judicial system.
“It is clear that a very large contingent of truck owners have taken recent developments regarding AB5 as a direct threat to their livelihoods,” said Matt Schrap, CEO of the Harbor Trucking Association.
Schrap added: “The frustration with the total lack of regard by the State of California for a business model that has provided thousands of men and women an opportunity to build and grow a business is now blatantly obvious … Unfortunately, it didn’t matter how many independent drivers stood up and expressed concerns during the legislative process for AB5 in 2019, they were basically ignored and essentially told by the Governor and the legislature what was best for them and their families.”
“With so many outstanding legal questions regarding AB5 and how it impacts the future of those who want to retain their independent status, it is no wonder why these truckers have taken matters into their own hands. It is very likely this would have happened much sooner if AB5 had not been challenged by the CTA.”
“Today, it is crystal clear that direct guidance is needed from the State in how these folks fit into the AB5 enforcement matrix. They are no doubt seeking an unadulterated pathway to maintaining their independence.”
“What is also clear and contrary to what has been perpetuated by the author of AB5 and its ardent supporters, is the fact that most, if not all independent drivers do not want to be employees, they want to remain independent, but the State has provided zero guidance in how to legally do so.”
“Bottom line, California has basically tossed these drivers and their dreams aside for the sake of political expediency in order to satisfy the wants and desires of special interests.”
“The baby has been thrown out with the bath water.”
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