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

( 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?

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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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Brian Straight

Brian Straight covers general transportation news and leads the editorial team as Managing Editor. A journalism graduate of the University of Rhode Island, he has covered everything from a presidential election, to professional sports and Little League baseball, and for more than 10 years has covered trucking and logistics. Before joining FreightWaves, he was previously responsible for the editorial quality and production of Fleet Owner magazine and fleetowner.com. Brian lives in Connecticut with his wife and two kids and spends his time coaching his son’s baseball team, golfing with his daughter, and pursuing his never-ending quest to become a professional bowler.