Port truckers help to move international trade and commerce. Products and raw materials are unloaded at the docks, and then port truckers haul them to retailers and other destinations. In California, new legislation has been introduced which could reform how port truckers are treated, only the burden would not be placed on fleet owners.

Independent California Port Truckers

The reasons behind the drafting of SB 1402 stem from complaints by drivers. Some drivers stated they were classified as independent contractors, and therefore not subject to state labor and employment laws. Retailers that hire truck drivers to haul port shipments have been found to not pay proper wages and even charging drivers for certain expenses. In some cases, port drivers were locked into contracts which prevented them from working for more than one company. This was ruled an unfair and harmful practice, because some port drivers have very few options for work. While there have been motions to crack down on labor violations to get trucking companies in-line with compliance, this new legislation puts the responsibility elsewhere.

Retailers And Truckers

California bill SB 1402, if passed, will place the responsibility on retailers who hire truckers to pick up port shipments. Retailers would have to ensure truck drivers hired for port loads are paid fair wages and receive the same benefits as those driving for regular fleets. Additionally, SB 1402 would generate a list of trucking companies with unpaid final judgments. If retailers hire those trucking companies on the list, they will be held accountable for any violations of California’s labor and employment laws.

Increased Tensions

Recent reporting on the issues surrounding port drivers, along with the proposal of SB 1402, has done nothing to ease tensions across the board. The Harbor Trucking Association labeled articles by major outlets as misleading. Truck drivers have always had the right to designate their own employment status. The California Trucking Association believes the proposed bill would only serve to increase the existing driver shortage in the state. Whether the bill is implemented is still up in the air. Currently, the California Labor Commission has generally ruled in favor of port drivers with complaints of wage and labor law violations, which has resulted in million of dollars in penalties and awarded compensation.