Vetoed: Collective bargaining rights for California port truckers

| 10/4/2006

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 statement.

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 editor