June 13, 2016
By Steven Wishnia and Neal Tepel
Trenton, NJ – The International Brotherhood of Teamsters has withdrawn its support for a bill pending in the state Assembly that would increase penalties for trucking companies that misclassify drivers as independent contractors, after it was amended to define most port truckers as independent.
The Teamsters have supported legislation that would extend the state’s “ABC” law to truck owner-operators, classifying them as employees unless the company can prove that: (a) the driver has control and discretion over his services, (b) the service is separate from the employer’s usual business or location, and (c) the operator is customarily engaged in an independent business. Gov. Chris Christie vetoed such a bill in 2013, and the current measure would let companies claim drivers are contractors if they own their own business, own or lease their own truck, or can accept jobs from more than one company. “It’s a very bad bill,” said Fred Potter, director of the Teamsters port division. The Teamsters have been campaigning to organize drivers in the Port of New York and New Jersey, the nation’s third-largest port, which one trade-group executive described in the Wall Street Journal as the “last big bastion of truckers who are not unionized.” About 85 percent of the 10,000 trucks registered to operate there are independent contractors, according to the New Jersey Motor Truck Association. Potter believes improving the law might not be possible until Christie is out of office. “Any legislation that protects workers I believe he would veto, and [he] is likely to sign into law bad legislation for workers,” he said. Read more