AB 5 Passes California State Senate Hearing – What Does this Mean?

In California, the trucking industry is in the middle of a legislative upheaval over certain exemptions and tests for truck drivers on the state’s highways. Legislation that could disrupt the owner-operator trucking model in California is headed to Governor Gavin Newsom’s desk to be signed.

Assembly Bill 5 (AB5) passed the state senate’s Standing Committee on Labor, Public Employment and Retirement by a 4 to 1 vote, opening to door to codify the ABC test for employee status prescribed in the 2018 Dynamex decision.

Supporting the legislation would help to seek to protect workers from employers that attempt to classify them as independent contractors instead of employees. It could also affect the price of ride-sharing apps like Uber and Lyft, which will likely create higher prices for consumers.

What the Bill Is

Under the bill, many workers who are currently under the label of independent contractor would be considered employees. This would make them subject to the state labor laws in California. What’s more, employers would have to pay payroll taxes, provide benefits, overtime, minimum wage, workers’ compensation and, in many cases, also provide the commercial truck insurance.

Opposing the Bill

The bill in its current form would hurt the owner-operators who want to stay independent. The test, which designates employee status in the legislation, provides no leeway for independent truck drivers who work with other trucking companies; including truck brokers. Trucking associations, such as the Western States Trucking Association (WSTA) have come out against the bill. They warn that the liabilities that come from it would hit employers as a result of reclassification and would ultimately lead to many, if not most, refusing to work with owner-operators.

What Happens Now?

Now, the future of the legislation is still a bit hazy. AB5 needs to be taken up by the state Senate’s Appropriations Committee, which won’t happen until later this month after the legislature’s recess is up. From there, the bill would go to the Senate floor for a major vote. If successful there, it then passes on to the Assembly chamber for a concurrence vote.

In the end, if it hurdles over those steps, the bill would then head to Gov. Newsom for signing, although Newsom does have the power to veto. Another hitch is that the bill needs to be passed by September 13 when it would die if not written into law.

Make sure to check back for future updates on this legislation.

About Western Truck Insurance Services

Western Truck Insurance Servicesis a commercial truck insurance agency with roots dating back to 1954. We have evolved into a highly respected, professionally managed, truck and transportation insurance brokerage. The hallmark of our organization is our desire to provide unparalleled service. We go way beyond what you expect to receive from an insurance brokerage. Equipped with state of the art automation, Western Truck Insurance can provide you with lightning fast truck insurance quotes, customer service, Insurance certificates, and coverage changes.

FMCSA Update: California Yields to Preemption Determination

Following the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s determination in December of last year that federal law preempts California’s meal and rest break rules, many trucking companies are trying to determine how this is going to affect them with the California courts.  Los Angeles Superior Court became the first state court in California to apply the determination to armored truck driver claims for meal and break rules in the state; decided in favor of the Federal Rules.

Let’s take a closer look at what the preemption determination is and how trucking companies should proceed.

How to Proceed with This Ruling

 The recent court orders are good news for trucking businesses with drivers subject to federal rules, but these companies should still be concerned about the state objectives on enforcing the meal and break rules. Trucking companies can still be hit with claims from drivers, and their opportunistic attorneys when it comes to rest and meal breaks. Having a knowledgeable commercial truck insurance broker to consult with is an added avenue of defense.

Preemption Determination

The FMCSA decided in December of 2018 that federal transportation law preempts (takes priority over) California’s meal and rest break rules when a driver is subject to federal hours-of-service requirements. Essentially, what this means is that California’s laws were looked at as incompatible with the federal regulations, which is causing a burden on interstate commerce.

Applying the FMCSA’s Rules

In May of this year, a district court in California ruled on the issue and dismissed a claim made for truck drivers meal and rest breaks. The court made it known that it doesn’t have the authority to enforce the regulations around meal and rest breaks. Following that ruling, the Los Angeles Superior Court, as mentioned above, made its decision surrounding armored truck drivers’ meal and rest break claims, determining that federal rules governing the hours of service for both long- and short-haul drivers preempt (take priority over) the state rules in California.

The court ruled that it was “obligated to recognize the supremacy of federal law under the United States Constitution and the oath of judicial office”. The court also determined that it has no choice “but to respect and enforce the FMCSA Administration’s preemption determination without trying to second-guess its legal or policy correctness.”

This issue will be continually evolving. Keep an eye out for future blogs with updates on this ruling.

About Western Truck Insurance Services

Western Truck Insurance Services is a commercial truck insurance agency with roots dating back to 1954. We have evolved into a highly respected, professionally managed, truck and transportation insurance brokerage. The hallmark of our organization is our desire to provide unparalleled service. We go way beyond what you expect to receive from an insurance brokerage. Equipped with state of the art automation, Western Truck Insurance can provide you with lightning fast truck insurance quotes, customer service, Insurance certificates, and coverage changes.

Will California Require Truck Drivers to Take Unpaid Rest Breaks?

In December of 2018, a ruling from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) stated that California trucking companies, while still requiring their employees to take rest breaks, are exempt from providing truck drivers paid rest. The ruling has been controversial to say the least and has already been set up to be challenged in court. Teamsters have already sued over the decision and petitions have been signed to reverse the ruling.

According to the FMCSA, there have been more crashes involving trucks in the northern California area, heading into Oregon. This has been due, in part, to a decline in parking. If a trucking professional can’t park and take a break, they simply keep on driving. This is a reason why it’s important for commercial truck insurance to be in place to protect drivers, their trucks and their companies.

The FMCSA holds the position that paid rest breaks reduce productivity, so not paying for them will motivate drivers to be more efficient in their work. Teamsters unions, on the other hand, are arguing that federal laws can’t overrule California’s state labor laws. Another argument from teamsters is that not having breaks covered will actually motivate drivers to forgo taking the right amount of rest while they are behind the wheel, causing them to decline in health, focus and safety.

Currently, the American Trucking Association has stated that it wants to do away with rest breaks altogether, promoting the idea that rest breaks would be bad for corporations. But attorneys for those who are suing say that the ATA’s arguments related to loss of productivity are not really supported.

In California, state labor laws stipulate specify that workers should get a 30-minute meal break for shifts longer than five hours and also that transportation workers rest for 10 minutes every four hours. The U.S. Court of Appeal for the Ninth Circuit in California ruled that carriers in the state must make sure that truck drivers get the right amount of rest and meal breaks.

The ATA has appealed to Congress before when it comes to these rulings, pleading over and over that rest breaks are bad for business. They’ve even gone as far as looking for support from the Trump Administration. The only question now is how will this all play out in court? Will it be a long, drawn-out fight?


About Western Truck Insurance Services

Western Truck Insurance Services is a commercial truck insurance agency with roots dating back to 1954. We have evolved into a highly respected, professionally managed, truck and transportation insurance brokerage. The hallmark of our organization is our desire to provide unparalleled service. We go way beyond what you expect to receive from an insurance brokerage. Equipped with state of the art automation, Western Truck Insurance can provide you with lightning fast truck insurance quotes, customer service, Insurance certificates and coverage changes.

Trucking News: What’s the Status on Owner-Operators in California?

Currently there are competing bills in California state legislature that are aiming to address an April 2018 ruling by the state’s Supreme Court that has threatened the traditional owner-operator model within the state. The bills are pointing to trucking groups wanting to upend years of law used to decide if a worker is an employee or an independent contractor.

Independent contractors make up a large portion of the transportation industry workforce in California. These independent contractors are mostly truck driver owner-operators and the major concern has to do with benefits truck drivers feel they are owed as well as being determined full-on employees.

The Ruling

On April 30 of 2018, the class action lawsuit produced an “ABC test,” or an assessment designed to strictly outline who can be classified as a contractor within the state. This will not only effect truck drivers, but virtually all who work in the growing gig economy (think delivery drivers, ride-sharing employees, etc.). The new standardized testing determines that a worker is an employee under the wage orders unless the hiring company establishes all three of these factors:

  • The worker is free from the control and direction of the hirer in connection with the performance of the work
  • The worker executes work outside the usual course of the hiring entity’s business
  • The worker is engaged in an independently established trade of the same nature as the work performed for the hiring entity

Essentially, the test assumes almost all workers are employees and eligible for the wide protections of California wage laws including overtime pay, meal breaks and minimum wage.

Another benefit workers are vying for are insurance options. From dental to medical, independent contractors are looking for the right coverage, especially given the dangerous nature of the trucking business. And while this is something that is still being volleyed back and forth by the court system in California, trucking companies can invest in commercial truck insurance to provide their own protection.

Having commercial truck insurance will help provide trucking companies with the protection needed to financially safeguarded against injuries drivers sustain on the job.

Gaining Opposition

The Western States Trucking Association has been looking at the idea of legality of the entire trucking industry in the state. The association pushed for a lawsuit filed earlier this past year against California over potential enforcement of the new ruling.

Western States has argued that the ruling violates federal law governing interstate transportation. The group is hoping for a long-term solution to the issue, to push the state legislature to act and correct the court’s decision to require testing.

The California Chamber of Commerce is also working to limit the effect of the ruling, especially since some of its members include trucking companies. The chamber has put together rallies at the state capital in Sacramento supporting workers’ right to choose to operate as independent contractors. Some motor carriers are considering changes to their operations after the ruling as well by turning over hiring to a brokerage firm for example.

About Western Truck Insurance Services

Western Truck Insurance Services is a commercial truck insurance agency with roots dating back to 1954. We have evolved into a highly respected, professionally managed, truck and transportation insurance brokerage. The hallmark of our organization is our desire to provide unparalleled service. We go way beyond what you expect to receive from an insurance brokerage. Equipped with state of the art automation, Western Truck Insurance can provide you with lightning fast truck insurance quotes, customer service, Insurance certificates and coverage changes.