The Sacramento Bee: Bills to Help Port Truckers

April 06, 2021
Speaking behind photos of truck drivers who died after contracting the coronavirus, labor advocates and legislators at the north steps of the Capitol introduced a package of bills aiming to address misclassifications and labor law violations in the port trucking industry.
“Wage theft, unsafe working condition, no safety net, this is the reality for thousands of port truckers like us,” said Juan Carlos Giraldo, who has been a truck driver in Southern California for 20 years, at a press conference introducing the bills.
SB 338 would hold companies liable for health and safety violations of their port trucking contractors in some circumstances. AB 794 would require some trucking companies to follow certain workforce standards if they want to get state incentives for buying low-emission vehicles. SB 700 would stipulate that trucking companies are responsible for paying payroll taxes for unemployment insurance.
Sen. María Elena Durazo, D-Los Angeles who introduced SB 700, said many drivers are misclassified as independent contractors when their work is controlled by trucking companies. The misclassification meant drivers are denied of protections such as unemployment insurance that are given to employees, she said.
In response, however, the California Trucking Association said those bills would only serve to harm the industry.
“Three years ago, the California Trucking Association worked with the Teamsters to ensure legally owed wage claims were paid,” said Chris Shimoda, the association’s vice president of government affairs, in a statement. “However, these bills target even those companies making good faith efforts to comply with the law, jeopardize the governor’s environmental goals and will only worsen California’s supply chain bottleneck.”