Killing Good Supply-Chain Jobs in California

After the last legal obstacle to trucking-industry enforcement of California’s anti-independent contractor A.B.5 fell on June 30, independent truckers in city after city took to the streets to protest this Big Labor-backed statute. (Credit: KTLA-TV (Los Angeles))

Teamster-Boss Win Over Independent Truckers Comes at a Huge Cost

Three years ago, over the course of just two days in September 2019, A.B.5, a massive expansion of forced unionism seeking to rob an estimated 1.5 million independent contractors in the Golden State of their workplace freedoms, was rubber-stamped on the floors of the California Senate and Assembly.

The following week, Big Labor Gov. Gavin Newsom (D), ignoring warnings from the National Right to Work Committee and its tens of thousands of California members, as well as many other citizen groups, about the disastrous impact A.B.5 would have, signed it into law.

It reclassified independent contractors, including truck owner-operators, therapists, artists, musicians and writers, as well as drivers for Uber and Lyft, as “employees” under California law.

As a result, these workers suddenly became vulnerable to union monopoly bargaining, and to being forced to pay union dues, or be fired.

Injunction Against A.B.5 Trucking Industry Enforcement Lifted at a Very Bad Time

From the time A.B.5 first took effect in January 2020, workers have been expressing their fury about this deadly threat to their independence. But the battle over this special-interest scheme has played out differently among different groups of independent contractors.

Many types of independent contractors, including freelance writers, photographers, videographers, photo editors and illustrators, successfully lobbied Sacramento to get exemptions, adopted in September 2020, from several of A.B.5’s most onerous provisions.

And in November 2020, a lopsided 59%-to-41% majority of Californians voted in favor of Proposition 22, a challenge to A.B.5 that exempted hundreds of thousands of drivers for ride-share and delivery companies from core A.B.5  mandates.

Independent-minded ride-share/delivery drivers’ Prop. 22 victory over A.B.5 is now in legal limbo as a consequence of an August 2021 court decision overturning it issued by a Big Labor-“friendly” Alameda County judge. But enforcement in this sector remains on hold while this decision is being appealed.

Until this summer, truck owner-operators were shielded from A.B.5 by a California Trucking Association lawsuit contending that the state statute is preempted by the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act (FAAAA), which largely bars state regulation of the airline and trucking industries.

But on June 30, the U.S. Supreme Court effectively put an end to this lawsuit by declining to take up an appeal of a 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decision finding A.B.5 not to be preempted by the FAAAA.

“The end of the judicial road for California’s 70,000 independent truck owner-operators and the companies and consumers that rely on their services comes at an extremely precarious time for the American economy,” noted National Right to Work Committee President Mark Mix. 

‘It’ll Kill the Liberty Of Being a Trucker and Kill the American Dream’

Mr. Mix explained: “As longtime southern California truck owner-operator Miguel Ramirez told the Daily Caller news service in July, implementation of A.B.5 in his industry will leave people with an unpalatable choice.

“You can ‘become an employee and lose all your liberty under someone else’s mandate, hours, and follow their policies, or jump ship and become your own company, but have to do all sorts of things that truckers don’t want to do like regulatory stuff in an over-regulated and complex industry.’

“‘It’ll kill the liberty of being a trucker and kill the American Dream,’ concluded Mr. Ramirez.

“Instead of becoming employees, many of the tens of thousands of owner-operators whose jobs are now being made illegal under A.B.5 are likely to switch to another trade, retire, or move out of state.

“And the consequences of such an exodus would be disastrous for California’s already deeply troubled Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, which for years have relied heavily on owner-operators to get goods to and from the docks. 

“Unless Gov. Newsom or someone else in a position of authority does something fast to prevent the immediate enforcement of A.B.5, Americans may well be in for a new supply-chain crisis far worse than what we’ve recently undergone!”

Unfortunately, over the course of his long career as an officeholder, Mr. Newsom has never given any indication of having the backbone needed for him to stand up now to the Big Labor bosses who have always backed him politically in order to avert an economic crisis.

Mr. Mix explained: “To forestall A.B.5’s devastation in the trucking industry, Gavin Newsom will have to go against the Teamster bosses who lobbied hard to get this scheme okayed in the first place. And they now insist the only problem is that independent truckers haven’t realized yet that forced unionism is good for them!”

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