New York governor will soon decide on trucker classification bill

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | Thursday, December 26, 2013

The clock is ticking on a bill in New York that is intended to settle a dispute over reclassification of independent contractors, including owner-operators.

New York state lawmakers sent a bill to Gov. Andrew Cuomo in June, which is supposed to ensure owner-operators doing business in the state maintain their independent status and aren’t labeled as employees. The governor has until Tuesday, Dec. 31, to sign or veto the bill – S5867.

Employment status has been in question at the statehouse since 2010. The Teamsters got legislation introduced that claimed port truckers and delivery drivers, such as FedEx and UPS drivers, “are often improperly classified as independent contractors.”

The change would require trucking companies to offer unemployment insurance and workers compensation to previously misclassified employees. Operations that misclassify employees would also face penalties.

OOIDA and the New York State Motor Truck Association opposed the change, which was reintroduced at the statehouse earlier this year. The groups cautioned the change was misguided and could result in a lot of business packing up and leaving the state.

Spurred by the concerns of truckers, state lawmakers acted in the final hours of the legislative session in June to approve an amended version of the bill that wouldn’t run off independent contractors.

NYSMTA President Kendra Hems said at the time the changes made should be able to protect independent contractors in the state.

The bill specifies that independent contractors can either own or lease their own equipment. Truckers also could choose to work for one carrier without sacrificing their independent status.

“At the end of the day I think we were able to come up with language that will allow true independent contractors to operate in New York state,” Hems previously told Land Line.

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