Independent truckers are often overlooked in this industry. Most major decisions and analysts focus on fleets and major carriers without taking into account how legislation and trends impact the many independent truckers across the United States. Now the ATA is forming a program specifically for independent truckers to help combat conflicts between state and federal laws.
Independent Truckers and Hours of Service
The ATA has largely advocated the best interests of large fleets. In regions like California and Northeast, state laws can vary greatly from federal laws, and across state lines. The most prominent case in the recent news comes from carriers and drivers who were found violating California’s state laws, which require paid breaks and wages that adhere to California’s own employment laws. While this is the best-known example of a direct conflict, it is not the only one in the United States. While carriers can potentially adjust for drivers moving through California, who advocates for the independent truckers who frequently find themselves without a fleet to report to?
Tackling Major Issues
The ATA’s program for independent truckers I taking aim at two very big issues. First, they aim to tackle state wages and hours of service. The conflicts between state and federal laws place a huge burden on independent truckers because adhering to one often means violating the other. The second issue centers around driver classification. California, New Jersey, and other states have raised concerns over whether independent truckers are employees of a company or contractors. The concern at the state level is that misclassified drivers could potentially allow employers to intentionally overlook wage and benefits laws. While there have been legitimate cases of misclassification, confusing and contradictory state laws are restricting genuine owner operator agreements, often leaving independent truckers feeling marginalized.
Looking to the Future
As of now, the ATA’s Independent Contractor Ambassadors Program is still rather undefined in size and scope. However, owner operators can expect to be part of the focus in the near future as the ATA attempts to make advocacy more inclusive to help the trucking industry grow from large fleets to independent drivers. As always, Express Freight Finance will report on this topic as more details are released.