California Truckers and Teamsters Appeal to Ninth Circuit After Ruling

The trucking industry in California has been caught up in a whirlwind of legal battles in the last few months as new legislation has been proposed, passed, and protested around the classification of workers in the industry. Everyone from truck drivers to dock workers to independent contractors are all involved as the state’s new AB5 bill, which represents a total change in how these employees can receive benefits and even find the right level of commercial Truck insurance for their daily operations.

Now, in a new appeal, truckers and teamsters in the industry are voicing their concern. A U.S. District Court judge has issued a preliminary injunction in the AB5-related case of California Trucking Association, et al., v. Attorney General Xavier Becerra, et al., and International Brotherhood of Teamsters temporarily blocking the ABC test.

What is the AB5 Bill?

AB5 essentially codifies the Dynamex case from April 2018 in which California’s Supreme Court determined that an ABC test must be used to determine worker classification in wage-order claims. Under this new test, a worker is presumed to be an employee. To go about this in a successful way, a company must demonstrate that the worker satisfies all three parts of the test.

These three parts include:

  • The worker is free from control and direction in the performance of their services
  • The worker is performing work outside the usual course of the business of the hiring company
  • The worker is customarily engaged in an independently established trade or business

AB5 makes the ABC Test the law in the state, but it also expands beyond wage-order claims to all provisions under the state Labor and Unemployment Insurance codes.

Making Their Appeal

The AB5 test went into effect on January 1 of this year and has faced plenty of backlash already from the trucking industry as well as the gig economy, a major player in the state with companies like Lyft and Uber. The California Trucking Association and two independent motor-carriers won a preliminary injunction on January 16, after a judge found that they’d established a likelihood of success on the merits of the arguments they were making.

The truckers involved in the injunction argued that FAAA preempts the ABC test because it requires them to classify all drivers as employees, causing major interference with their routes, services, commercial truck insurance, and prices.

The following is a statement from Julie Gutman Dickinson, local counsel to the Teamsters Port Division:

“We are not surprised by the Court’s decision to issue a preliminary injunction blocking application of AB5’s ABC test to California truck drivers; however, the decision does not impact port and rail drivers’ fight for their employee rights and an end to systemic wage theft. The bottom line is that in every port trucker misclassification/wage theft case to date, misclassified California port truck drivers have been found to be employees NOT independent contractors under the California Borello test. It simply does not matter whether you apply the ABC test under Dynamex, AB5, or the Borello test, they are employees under all tests. The Court’s preliminary injunction has no practical effect on the employee status of these drivers—they are clearly employees.

In Regards to Wage Claims

“In over 500 wage claim cases at the California DLSE, drivers have uniformly been found to be employees NOT independent contractors under the Borello test. There is not one case that I am aware of where any driver has been found to be an independent contractor under Borello. And in all private litigation I have participated in and am aware of, port and rail drivers have uniformly been found to be employees under the Borello test. Indeed, the Ninth Circuit Court of appeals has made crystal clear that Borello is NOT preempted under the FAAA.

The Test

“The question of whether the ABC test is preempted will go through legal proceedings before there is any final determination. Even if ultimately prong B is found preempted, prongs A and C should remain intact as they have in other jurisdictions. Further, even if the ABC test as a whole were ultimately found to be preempted for interstate drivers, it would still be immaterial to the fact that these drivers have been uniformly found to be employees under Borello, a test that has definitely been determined NOT to be preempted.”

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. Contact us today at (800) 937-8785 to learn more!

Truck Parking Safety Tips

For truck drivers, finding available and safe parking on the road has been a problem for as long as trucking has been a service. Now, the issue has grown as the rise of e-commerce has put more trucks on the road. But, just as many states across the country have closed down rest areas due to cost cutting and changes to hours of service rules.

With more trucks on the road, driver frustration when it comes to finding sensible and safe parking is at an all-time high. As three million trucks drive across the country, only 300,000 parking spaces await them when they need a break. While some trucks return to their terminals before the day is done, there’s still a surplus of truck drivers who need to find their own spot for the night.

So, what can truckers do to not only find a space but be safe?

Position for Safety

When a driver pulls into a truck stop, they should park as far away from traffic as they can. This means that they will need to park in the back of a lot. It may be tempting to just pull into the nearest space when you’re driving in, but other people will be finding spots there too. Avoid parking in a spot near the end of a row as these are closest to the parking lot traffic.

Plan Your Route

Truckers are already following a pre-planned route as it is. However, they should also factor in fuel stops and truck stops that will be used en route. Try to plan the driving schedule around fulfilling miles and driving hours within certain regulations, as well as factoring in arriving at truck stops early. Competition for finding available parking can be hard, so planning where to park will help you avoid any illegal or unsafe parking.

Protect Your Cargo

If you plan on sleeping in your cab overnight at the truck stop, remember to take some extra care in order to protect you and what you’re hauling. Close the windows up, lock the doors, and keep valuables, such as cell phones and electronics, out of sight. It can also help to have window shades installed to keep out any potential for wandering eyes.

To go even further, truckers can install dash cams for truck insurance purposes as well as to help boost their peace of mind. Truck insurance, such as crime insurance, can help truckers and the companies they drive for avoid major legal fees if a safety issue does occur. While no one wants to look forward to a safety issue wherein truck insurance is used, it doesn’t hurt to have assets protected under this coverage.

Add Some Strategy

Parking spots that are more strategically planned for are the ones that won’t require a driver to back out when they have to leave in the morning. Try to find spaces that let you pull through or back into. Also, be aware of the parked trucks around where the spot is located and try not to park in a space where the other trailer will have to back up towards when it’s leaving.

Go for Well-Lit Spaces

Parking under or near lights, or in truck stops where floodlights are present is better than going for a dark lot. While a dark lot may look like it’s ideal for cutting out extra light and will help you sleep, it’s not as safe. Lights help to turn thieves away or at least shine a light on them if they try to steal. Truck stops always have people coming and going, so find a balance between an optimal parking spot location and one that’s well-lit.

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.

Sleep- Essentials of Health and Wellness for Truck Drivers

Are you getting enough sleep? Many truckers don’t and it can have a negative impact on both quality of life/health and safety behind the wheel. What can you do? How can you get enough sleep with the crazy hours trucking brings? Getting plenty of sleep as an over the road trucker isn’t going to be easy, but with these tips you can get the most ZZZZs possible even if your situation isn’t ideal.

Why Is Sleep Important?

The Department of Transportation estimates that fatigue related causes account for about 13% of all truck accidents. It can also increase your risk for negative health effects including heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, and diabetes (all things that truck drivers are at risk for). Getting sleep on the road is difficult, but the risks of not getting enough sleep are worse. Make sleep a priority.

What Can You Do?

Getting enough good quality sleep is difficult when you’re on the road and dealing with variable schedules. Here are some tips that may help:

  • Avoid Drowsy Times- Your body is most drowsy from 12 a.m. to 6 a.m. and
    from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. If you can, stay off the road during these particularly drowsy hours.
  • Nap Properly– A nap can be a great way to fight fatigue, but only if you do it properly. An effective nap should be more than 10 minutes but less than 45 minutes. Give yourself 15 minutes to fully wakeup before you get back on the road. Short naps have been shown to restore energy more effectively than coffee. Naps work best if they are used preventatively before you get tired, rather than after.
  • Skip the Tricks– What’s your secret to staying awake when tired? Many drivers rely on caffeine, an open window, loud music, and other tricks to stay awake on the road. These tricks may increase alertness for a few minutes, but they aren’t effective or reliable. Skip the tricks and pull over for some shut eye if you’re feeling drowsy. Caffeine can be a tool you use, but use it wisely.
  • Turn Off Your Alarm– During the week, you’ll likely need an alarm to get to deliveries and pick-ups on time, but when you’re home for the weekend or taking a restart, turn off the alarm. Let your body get the rest it needs and sleep until you’re no longer tired. These periods of rest can help you from becoming severely sleep deprived.

While fatigue is possible at any time, it is especially common during periods of shift or schedule changes. These tips will help you adjust:

  • Stick with Your Schedule/Routine– Limiting the changes your body goes through can help you adjust to a change. Try to stick with your typical work schedule, even if you’re home for a few days. If you do need to change your schedule, keep your pre-bed routines in place and use light and dark to help you adjust.
  • Get More Sleep– When going through times of adjustment, increase your sleep if you can. Getting more sleep helps your body adjust to the changes.

Sleep Disorders- Do You Have One?

In the U.S. alone 70 million people have some sort of sleep disorder, or a condition that keeps them from getting sufficient restorative sleep. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), insomnia, and restless leg syndrome are common sleep disorders. If you have one, work with your doctor to minimize its impact on your sleep and to find effective strategies for getting the rest you need. Talk with your doctor about sleep disorders and be aware of the signs of sleep disorders so you know if you’re at risk.

Tools for Better Sleep

The North American Fatigue Management Program is a great resource for truckers, their families, and others involved in the transportation industry. They have two great courses on fatigue that drivers should consider taking: Driver Education (focused on fatigue and fatigue management) and Driver Sleep Disorders Management.

Make the commitment today to getting better sleep. Your health and safety depend on it. And keep checking back for more tips on truck driver health and safety.

What Insurance, Permits, Etc. Do I Need to Get Started?

One of the biggest questions we encounter from new drivers is, “What do I need?” Interstate truckers need a variety of permits, registrations, insurance policies, etc. to ensure they are in compliance with various state and federal laws. We can help you with the specifics for your situation (just give us a call), but this will give you a good idea of where to start.

Permits, Authority, and More… What Do I Need?

The various regulatory permits and registrations needed can vary quite a bit depending on which states you’ll be running through, but there are a few basics you’ll most likely need. Let’s take a look:

·         DOT Number

·         FMCSA MC Authority

·         Truck Registration

o   IRP

o   Unified Carrier Registration or UCR

o   IFTA (International Fuel Tax Agreement)

·         Individual State Permits- Some states require additional permits and fees. Things like oversize and overweight permits only apply if your specific load requires it, but some fees apply to even standard sized loads. For example you may encounter Weight Distance Taxes, fuel taxes that are paid to the state directly (and not charged with fuel), property taxes, and other required permits and fees.

Insurance… How Much Coverage Is Enough?

Although you may need higher limits, depending on your circumstances, the following coverages are most common for trucking and transportation:

·         $1 Million Commercial Auto Liability

o   $1,000 Deductible  for Physical Damage Coverage

·         $100,000 Motor Truck Cargo

o   $1,000 Deductible Non-Owned Trailer Coverage

The best way to determine how much insurance you need specifically is to talk with one of our agents. We aren’t just here to sell a policy, but to educate, inform, and help you in your journey. We want you to have access to the highest quality insurance products at highly competitive rates. We can help you determine what coverage you need and which insurer can best provide it.

Getting started in the transportation industry can be confusing, but don’t let that stop you. We’re here  to help you figure out what you need so you can… Travel with Care.