• Henry Seaton

Bill would review independent contractors in port trucking

Rep. Grace Napolitano (D-California) and eight other House Democrats are co-sponsoring a bill (H.R. 4144) that would establish a task force to consider the effects on truck drivers of truck leasing requirements at ports. Under the bill, the Truck Leasing Task Force would examine “lease-to-own” agreements that commercial truck drivers have entered into, with a focus on (1) the operation of agreements that drayage drivers have entered into and (2) such agreements at the Port of Los Angeles and the Port of Long Beach. The bill's introductions follows a series of articles published by USA Today on port trucking.

After reciting a number of reasons for investigation, H.R. 4144 includes a "sense of Congress" that truck drivers, including drayage drivers, have the right to:

  1. be treated with honesty and respect;

  2. have full-time work guarantee a basic standard of living;

  3. be covered by Federal, State, and local labor and employment laws;

  4. be covered by workplace safety and health laws;

  5. be free from exploitative truck lease or rental arrangements;

  6. not be misclassified as independent contractors and denied legal protections, benefits, and pay; and

  7. bargain collectively for better wages and working conditions.

A task force of up to 15 members would be appointed by the Secretary of Transportation and would include representatives of labor organizations, the motor carrier industry, consumer protection groups, safety groups, and members of the legal profession who specialize in consumer finance issues.

As a pro-labor bill backed exclusively by House Democrats, H.R. 4144 stands no chance of being advanced or enacted in the current Congress.

Avoid legal pitfalls

Rules of the Road offers practical help on avoiding legal pitfalls in working with customers, independent contractors, insurers, factoring companies, etc.

Many serious legal risks will go unnoticed unless you are watching for them. Don't take chances.

 Although successful food haulers already employ the common sense steps required in FDA's new transportation rule, declaring your compliance can help you stay competitive for spot-market freight.