New Jersey one step closer to reclassifying truckers; status clarification intro'd

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | Wednesday, May 22, 2013

A bill halfway through the New Jersey statehouse would classify drayage truck operators and parcel drivers as company employees. Another bill would clarify the independent status of owner-operators.

Assembly lawmakers voted 45-30 on Monday, May 20, to advance to the Senate legislation that would deem port truckers, including owner-operators going onto a port, to be employees.

OOIDA and the New Jersey Motor Truck Association are opposed to the reclassification.

Todd Spencer, OOIDA’s executive vice president, said the legislation – A1578 – is misguided and could result in a lot of businesses packing up and leaving the state. Instead, he urged lawmakers to look at federal rules to address any problem with misclassification in the state.

“Existing law determines whether someone is an employee or a contractor. It should be New Jersey’s model,” Spencer said. “A broad brush bill that reclassifies all contractors as employees is absolutely nuts.”

Gail Toth, executive director of the New Jersey Motor Truck Association, said that bill supporters are trying to convince state lawmakers that owner-operators want to be employees.

The legislative attack on driver classification follows a successful lawsuit in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit brought by the American Trucking Associations. The truckers group sued Los Angeles over portions of its clean truck program, including an expensive concession requirement that all trucks entering the port would have to comply with.

The subsequent ruling confirmed that states cannot regulate the routes, rates or services of trucks engaged in interstate commerce.

The U.S. Supreme Court is reviewing the case.

Toth said that a new bill introduced Monday in the New Jersey Assembly would clarify the independent status of owner-operators.

She told Land Line that A4134 would “essentially codify the federal leasing rules as the law in New Jersey.”

Specifically, the bill states that truck drivers are exempt from unemployment compensation coverage as long as the vehicle is licensed for commercial use and the operator has a written lease with a carrier in accordance with federal leasing regulations.

A4134 awaits consideration in the Assembly Labor Committee.

OOIDA encourages New Jersey truckers to contact their state lawmakers about the reclassification efforts.

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

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