Could Washington state truckers soon be reclassified?

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 1/30/2013

A renewed effort at the Washington statehouse would reclassify many independent truck drivers as employees.

In 2012, a similar effort sought to deem drayage truck operators, as well as any owner-operators, going onto the ports of Seattle and Tacoma to be employees of companies that “directly engages the services.”

Groups that included the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association and the Washington Trucking Association opposed the maneuver.

The House-approved bill died after it didn’t meet a Senate deadline to advance to the chamber floor.

A bill in the House Labor and Workforce Development Committee again takes up the question of classification.

Supporters say that truck drivers are being misclassified.

Sponsored by Rep. John McCoy, D-Tulalip, HB1440 would rewrite the definition of an independent contractor. Specifically, it would presume an employer-employee relationship when services are performed for pay.

Motor carriers would be required to prove that drivers paid to haul loads are independent contractors. Criteria for independent status would include providing service that is outside a company’s normal business.

Truck drivers say the changes sought would run off small business operations and discourage truckers from doing business in the state. Instead, they say the reliance on owner-operators is a widely used and reputable practice that should be encouraged as a way to stimulate Washington’s economy.

Opponents also say the effort to meddle with interstate commerce is a violation of federal preemption.

The bill is expected to be considered in committee on Thursday, Jan. 31.

OOIDA encourages Washington truckers to contact their state lawmakers about the legislation.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Washington, click here.

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