California truckers protest as Supreme Court refuses to hear AB5 case

California truckers protest as Supreme Court refuses to hear AB5 case

California truckers servicing the gateways of Los Angeles, Long Beach and Oakland have begun port-wide protests as strikes threaten to add pressure on the US supply chain.

Transport workers are protesting against the Assembly Bill 5 (AB5) authored by former Assembly Member Lorena Gonzalez in 2019. Provisions in the bill require workers to satisfy a three-part test to be considered independent contractors.

An injunction in place since 2020 has prevented the law from being enforced; however, on 30 June the Supreme Court declined a petition brought forth by the California Trucking Association (CTA), upholding the full enforcement of the law.

The protests come at a critical time for ports involved in high-stakes West Coast labour talks.

“The frustration with the total lack of regard by the state of California for a business model that has provided thousands of men and women an opportunity to build and grow a business is now blatantly obvious,” reads a statement from the Harbor Trucking Association.

“Unfortunately, it didn’t matter how many independent drivers stood up and expressed concerns during the legislative process for AB5 in 2019, they were basically ignored and essentially told by the governor and the legislature what was best for them and their families.”

READ: US Commerce Chamber calls on Biden to intervene in railroad labour talks

According to the CTA, more than 70 per cent of the truckers that service the largest US ports are owner-operators rather than employees of a trucking firm.

Some 70,000 truck owner-operators will be affected by the change.

“What is also clear and contrary to what has been perpetuated by the author of AB5 and its ardent supporters, is the fact that most, if not all independent drivers do not want to be employees, they want to remain independent, but the state has provided zero guidance in how to legally do so,” continues the statement.

“Bottom line, California has basically tossed these drivers and their dreams aside for the sake of political expediency in order to satisfy the wants and desires of special interests.”

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