The government is back! The Supreme Court recently ruled that it would not hear trucking’s AB 5 case. Out of touch with workers, California State Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez authored the controversial Assembly Bill 5, which establishes a strict definition of who is an independent contractor and who is a company employee (called the Test ABC), and in our case, on truckers.
Without realizing or even caring about the results, this bill was approved by Governor Newsom. Teamsters 7 Joint Council President Jason Rabinowitz called it “an important victory in the Teamsters’ decades-long battle against misclassifications in trucking.” And Teamsters General Chairman Sean M. O’Brian added, “At last, port truckers and so many others” (he grouped all types of trucking) “across California will have the opportunity to come together” (oh yes! join the Teamsters and pay monthly dues) “and earn a fair wage that allows them to support their families”. Shame on California lawmakers and those in California for once again bowing to unions, who have donated large sums of money.
First, this law effectively takes away a person’s right to choose to own their own business, in their own way. They were doing this according to the laws of the land. Many found that they could not earn enough as employees to even buy a house. This is why they went into business, having already been employed. I’ve seen this time and time again with former employees turned independent contractors, and I’ve seen them thrive like never before. I knew what they were doing before, having worked at my current job for the same trucking company for 17 years.
But now, after investing years and funds in buying and running their own trucking business, paying all permits, taxes, insurance, etc. required annually by the state and federal government, which every company must legally have (they have their own authority, do not work under another company’s licenses or permits), they are now seeing that right taken away from them d stroke of the pen, by a distraught government that has once again overstepped its bounds.
Due to the impact of this law on hundreds of professions and its backlash, Lorena Gonzalez has already exempted many of them with AB 2257. Gonzalez says, “After hearing additional feedback from a variety of freelance writers, photographers and journalists, we are making changes to Assembly Bill 5 that meet their needs and still provide protections against misclassifications.
But she didn’t listen to the truckers’ comments even as they marched on the Capitol. This is what happens when an ignorant legislator and government fail to understand the profound implications of crafting a one-size-fits-all bill. She shouldn’t be allowed to choose who she wants it to apply to. It should apply to everyone, or it should not apply to anyone. Period. This bill revises it so that dozens of other independent contractors, besides those listed in its statement above, are exempt from parts of the ABC test so they can continue in their lines of business (see list complete online).
For our valley, the results will be visible to all. This will affect all types of construction companies and will greatly affect projects already underway, such as high-speed rail (whether you are for it or not) and highway construction projects in every county in California.
On the way to work, you see the Bakersfield and Kern County projects that depend on independent contractors (look at all the different names on the construction trucks you pass) in order to have enough trucks to get the job done. No individual company is able to supply as many trucks as the projects require in order to complete the work on time, so we rely on our fellow aggregate truckers and work with them, as we have since many years now. So if it seems like our ongoing local freeway construction projects are taking forever, guess what, you ain’t seen nothing yet!
Tekla Patton is currently an office manager for local aggregate haulage company Triple E Trucking LLC.