New Jersey bill offers alternative to trucker reclassification effort

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 5/5/2014

Truck drivers are taking a proactive approach in New Jersey to counter concerns about the status of professional drivers classified as independent contractors.

A year ago, Gov. Chris Christie vetoed a bill that sought to classify drayage truck operators and parcel drivers as company employees. Specifically, the bill deemed port truckers, including owner-operators going onto a port, to be employees unless they can satisfy a three-part test.

The governor said the approach taken in the bill was “overreaching” and had the potential to cause severe and significant economic harms to New Jersey’s trucking industry.

Advocates for the change are not giving up. Assemblyman John Wisniewski, D-Middlesex, and Sen. Loretta Weinberg, D-Bergen, are taking another crack at it this year.

Meanwhile, the New Jersey Motor Truck Association worked with Sen. Joe Pennacchio, R-Morris, on an alternative that would help protect independent truckers.

Owner-operators would be exempt from employment laws for purposes of unemployment insurance and taxes, as long as they meet conditions related to federal licensing and leasing regulations, lease purchase, and form 1099 reporting.

In a letter of support to Pennacchio, OOIDA wrote the “legislation protects the rights and freedoms of independent truckers.” If a dispute arises about an individual’s classification, “long-standing existing state and federal processes will be used to resolve it.”

OOIDA also issued a Call to Action to New Jersey truckers in support of the bill. In the letter, OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer wrote that S2033 “strengthens existing requirements to operate as an independent trucker, weeds out bad actors, and uses long-standing federal and state processes to resolve disputes in employment status.”

“This legislation protects your rights and freedoms as an independent trucker,” Spencer wrote. “It also strengthens existing requirements to operate as an independent trucker.”

S2033 awaits assignment to committee.

Copyright © OOIDA