For the second time in two years, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has vetoed
a bill that would have given owner-operators who service ports in California the right to collectively bargain.
The governor said in his veto message Sept. 29 that while he
appreciated the desire of the bill’s proponents to “improve the economic clout”
of port owner-operators, the bill likely violates the federal antitrust law.
“The provisions of this bill offer a legally doubtful attempt at an
antitrust exemption, expanding state regulation in a manner never tried
before,” Schwarzenegger wrote. “This will undoubtedly set off legal battles
that will take years to resolve.”
Sen. Joseph Dunn, D-Garden Grove, said the bill was intended to give
truckers a measure of justice at the ports.
“These hardworking Californians keep the state’s business moving but
don’t have the workplace rights they deserve,” Dunn said in a written
The bill – SB1213 – would have allowed port owner-operators to organize
and to collectively negotiate with port motor carriers regarding such matters
as compensation and benefits.
It also would have extended to those drivers key benefits that many
employees in the state have, such as the ability to withhold their services on
a collective basis – in essence, the right to strike – and to be free from any
coercion by port motor carriers regarding those rights. Owner-operators would
have had an anti-trust exemption.
The effort can be brought back for consideration during the session
that begins in December.
– By Keith Goble, state legislative