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August 12, 2022

Letter: Bills force truckers off the road

In addition to inflation worsening our supply chains, the throttling of 70,000 owner-operator truckers by California’s AB5 and AB2257 is one heck of a monkey wrench tossed into our gearbox. 

I am a 1966 graduate of the Motor Carrier Fleet Safety Supervisor School at UC Berkeley, and was a truck dispatcher in San Jose from 1966-1970 during the Vietnam War for Southern Pacific’s truck subsidiary Pacific Motor Trucking. I’ve practiced transportation law for 42 years, and am a member of the Transportation Lawyers Association. I’ve done post-doc study of transport law and policy at Norman Y. Mineta International Institute for Surface Transportation Policy Studies, SJSU; Transportation Research Board, Georgetown U; and at the Library of Congress. I’m a past-Chair, Legislation Committee, of the TLA.

Secretary Mineta’s signature “deregulation” legislation, F4A Act of 1994, was intended to nullify contradictory State laws which hinder our arteries of commerce like AB5 does.

We need a legislative correction either by the Legislature or the Congress which provides that owner-operator truckers are independent contractors, not employees. The B2B Exception in AB5 and AB2257 is a starting point. Notice that the PRO Act HR-842, S-842, does not contain a B2B Exception in the version passed by the House. The owner-operator model in the trucking industry has been standard since the end of World War II, and makes it possible for a small businessman or woman to start their own trucking business, and hopefully, succeed, just as did UPS founders, and Fedex founder, and many others.

While a trucker may choose to be a member of a union, he ought to have the choice of being a small business owner independently contracting his trucking services.

Near my high school in Cupertino you could find examples of small business owners starting up their own businesses, which today have become major successes of our economy. Hewlett and Packard, Jobs and Wozniak, started in garages, and today are two of the largest businesses in the nation.

AB5, AB2257, PRO Act, all are laws which deter such successes in the future. We must take action now to prevent a future Hewlett and Packard, or Jobs and Wozniak, from making America a better place.

Joe Thompson

Past-President, 1999-2001, 2006, Gilroy-Morgan Hill Bar Assn.

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