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70,000 Truckers in Legal Limbo: Protest Planned

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On Monday July 18th, local truckers plan to protest a recent Supreme Court decision that impacts over 70,000 truckers who operate within California. Last month, on June 30th, The Supreme Court denied The California Trucking Association’s petition for a hearing over the state’s Assembly Bill 5 (commonly known as AB5).

“With AB5 now set to go into effect, thousands of owner-operators driving in California face an uncertain future,” OOIDA President Todd Spencer said in a recent article on Land Line. “California has provided no guidance to owner-operators about how they can work as independent contractors under this new scheme, and truckers will be at the mercy of the courts to interpret how the law will be applied.”

port of oakland from alameda

Protest planned for 7am on Monday July 18th at The Port of Oakland

No one knows how this will be enforced but time is ticking because the Supreme Court has asked that companies start to comply within a week after their ruling to deny the petition – that would have been earlier this month.

“This ruling really took everybody off-guard, especially at the speed that they kicked this back and essentially made it law,” said Paul Brashier, Vice President of ITS Logistics, a commercial transport company.


What is AB5 and how does it impact truckers specifically?

Way back in 2019, a bill was passed that impacted independent contractors. When it was passed, folks hoped this would curb apps like Door Dash, Uber, and Lyft from abusing their drivers – essentially keeping them from full-time employment benefits. It was believed this would help people but it has put truckers in legal limbo.

CTA also said the AB 5 law “would cause motor carriers and owner-operators to bear the substantial, if not insurmountable, costs and burdens associated with shifting to an employer-employee business model.”

Interestingly, the drivers who work for companies like Door Dash, Uber, and Lyft are no longer part of the AB5 battle because they are now exempt after the passage of Prop 22. Passed in 2020 at 56%, Prop 22 allows an exemption for app-based delivery and transportation companies from giving employee benefits to certain drivers.

Will we see the supply chain impacted by AB5

I can’t see how it couldn’t. 170,000 truckers work within California. Over half of those (100k) are employees of freight carriers. This bill impacts the other 70,000 truckers are fully independent. Many of them like it that way. They own their equipment, buy their own insurance, and hold a motor carrier authority granted by the Department of Transportation (DOT). They keep 100% of anything they earn. They can work wherever they want for whomever they want. Will they want to work in California with AB5 in place?

Aerial of Port of Oakland Inner Harbor with San Francisco skyline in the background - photo from The Port Of Oakland

Aerial of Port of Oakland Inner Harbor with San Francisco skyline in the background – photo from The Port Of Oakland

What’s next for independent truckers?

Some people are pretty pessimistic about what’s ahead for truckers. “I think it’s a done deal,” said Greg Feary, president of the Indianapolis-based trucking law firm Scopelitis, Garvin, Light, Hanson & Feary. “They could ask the Supreme Court for reconsideration, but I don’t think they’re going to do that. That’s kind of a Hail Mary pass that’s virtually never caught.”

Others feel that the fight against California’s AB5 in the trucking industry is not over. The case could potentially get pushed back down to the district court. Many are telling truckers to start looking for legal advice to prepare for what’s next.

Protest Details:

When: Monday, July 18th at 7am
Where: this protest will be at the Port of Oakland
Who: Led by owner operators that are fighting to get Gavin Newsom to rescind AB-5

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Katy Atchison

Katy Atchison

Katy is a professional smiling machine raised in The Bay Area since the age of 3. While other kids were attending summer camp & soccer practice, she was raised selling wares at craft shows with her working artist parents and spent vacations in a small 1920s Montana log cabin. This has all given her a unique perspective on the ever-changing texture of San Francisco and the Greater Bay Area. Currently a blend of all that is The Bay Area - she's a web designer at a tech-company, artist and DIY teacher.

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