Today’s Pickup: House bill would direct investigation of port truck leases

(Photo: Shutterstock)

(Photo: Shutterstock)

Good day,

Two bills introduced in the U.S. House last week could potentially change the classification of port truckers, requiring them to become employee drivers.

The first bill, introduced by Rep. Grace Napolitano (D-CA), would set up a federal task force to study truck lease agreements that were a prominent part of a USA Today investigative story over the summer. The agreements, USA Today wrote, are often written to the benefit of the leasing carrier, require the truck driver to purchase expensive new equipment, and pay all the maintenance of the vehicle.

The task force would examine whether the leases impact driver pay and if they adhere to local, state and federal laws before recommending any needed legislation.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) introduced a second bill that would allow ports to set the conditions for drivers that are ““reasonably related to the reduction of environmental pollution, traffic congestion, the improvement of highway safety, or the efficient utilization of port facilities.”

In 2008, the Port of Los Angeles, under its Clean Trucks Program, tried to require drivers entering the ports to be employees rather than contractors. A court ultimately struck down the provision. The language in Nadler’s bill, the Teamsters believe, would be critical to opening the door for that to occur.

“For years, port truck drivers across the country have been forced to work long hours, often exceeding maximum hours of service set by the U.S. to keep America safe, in order to pay the company to lease and maintain their truck,” said Fred Potter, Vice President-at-Large at the Teamsters and Director of the Teamsters’ Port Division. “Rep. Napolitano’s bill would create a taskforce to review the broken system and crack down on bad actors.”

Did you know?

Spot rates for vans and reefers declined for the third straight week, according to DAT. The national average rate for both segments fell 1 cent to $2.03 per mile for vans and $2.32 for reefers. Flatbed rates remained flat, holding steady at $2.34 per mile.

Quotable:

“I’m not ruling out anything at this point. I think we need to keep our options open in terms of how we get that done. We have members who are open to all ideas about how to pay for [infrastructure].”

- Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, on the possibility of a federal gas tax hike

In other news:

Top Republican leaves door open to gas tax hike

Sen. John Thune told reporters on Tuesday that he has not ruled out a gas tax hike to help pay for infrastructure improvements. (The Hill)

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FMCSA Administrator nominee backs ELDs

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UPS to add collision-avoidance tech

UPS said it will add collision-avoidance technology to more than 5,700 vehicles in its fleet of 11,000 tractor-trailer units. (DC Velocity)

Final Thoughts

There continues to a lot of activity surrounding port truckers, with the latest being two bills introduced in the House to study drivers’ classifications and leasing agreements. It’s not a great time to be a port trucker, or a port carrier, it seems.

Hammer down everyone!

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