New Jersey governor foils effort to reclassify truckers

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | Monday, September 09, 2013

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie on Monday, Sept. 9, vetoed a bad bill for the trucking industry.

The veto foiled an effort to classify drayage truck operators and parcel drivers as company employees. Specifically, A1578 sought to deem port truckers, including owner-operators going onto a port, as employees.

OOIDA and the New Jersey Motor Truck Association opposed the reclassification effort.

In late August, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association sent a letter to the governor encouraging his veto of the bill.

Association leaders have referred to the legislative effort as misguided and said it could result in a lot of businesses packing up and leaving the state.

“Instead of providing a means to address any problems that may occur, it completely banned all owner-operator independent truckers from providing service to the ports,” OOIDA President Jim Johnston wrote. “The solution is not to ban entrepreneurs from starting small trucking businesses. A better solution must be found.”

Supporters said the governor’s decision keeps in place a system that is unfair to workers and unfair to those companies that play by the rules.

“Because of the governor’s veto, unethical companies will continue to skirt the law by gaming the system to avoid paying their fair share of taxes,” Assemblyman John Wisniewski, D-Middlesex, said in a news release.

Gail Toth, executive director of the New Jersey Motor Truck Association, said that her group continues to work on a solution that would exempt independent truckers from any future reclassification effort.

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 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.

OOIDA filed as an intervener in the lawsuit.

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

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June that the Port of Los Angeles’ concession program falls under the scope of a congressional pre-emption that prohibits states and local government bodies from regulating motor carriers.

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

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