Welcome to the WHAT THE TRUCK?!? newsletter. In this issue, AB5 port protests enter day 2; SoCal rail chaos; the wrong way to email drivers; heated seats as a service; and more.
Truckers take a stand on AB5 for second day
Slow roll — On Wednesday, hundreds of truckers took to the 710 freeway to make their voices heard concerning the recent AB5 ruling. While organizers say that terminal operations weren’t disrupted, plenty of video shows traffic snarled for miles (though, what else is new in LA?)
“Today’s actions by frustrated owner-operators at the California ports is a clear cry for help. It takes courage to park your truck and take a stand against a state intent on ending your ability to earn a living — California’s AB5 is just that.” — Gordon Reimer, manager of Southern California-based FHE Express
Here comes the pain again — Drivers and supporters are planning another two days of port protests in SoCal before moving on to Oakland and NorCal. Will politicians hear them? They haven’t so far. FreightWaves reports, “On June 30, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the California Trucking Association’s challenge to AB5, returning the case to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.” Unfortunately for 70,000-plus of California’s leased on owner-operators, they now have to completely overhaul their business model along with their carriers in order to satisfy the B prong of the “ABC test” related to showing whether they are independent contractors under AB5. Crazy to think this all started over Uber/Lyft … which are exempt from the law after $200 million dollars of lobbying.
Shot in the dark? — Back The Truck Up reports, “The California Trucking Association (CTA) and Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) have not given up the fight against AB5.” They believe that AB5 violates the Commerce Clause, which protects the right to engage in interstate commerce free of undue burdens and discrimination by state governments. These are murky times for drivers targeted by the bill. Trucking veteran Rooster advises, “My best advice to drivers out there: If you have any questions, call a lawyer.”
How not to email your drivers
Junk mail — Redditor CanConMil recently posted the above email to Reddit’s revered (at least around these parts) r/truckers channel … and other drivers had an opinion on this:
“Any driver caught farting in company vehicle will be subject to automatic termination. Daily sniff tests will be enforced as a part of proper post-trip inspection.” — dahomie_longstroke
“Seems The way it’s going in this industry. One of the reasons I’m planning to retire in less than a year, my company hasn’t done anything like cameras yet, but I’m still done with trucking” — floydguitarist
“A speeding ticket is termination? Lol f**k off. I go slow but driving 50+ hours a week it just takes 3 seconds to lose track of speed and get a cop who gives you a ticket for 10 over. No one is perfect and we’re not robots. F**k this company” — Ruleej32
I always feel like somebody’s watchin’ me — Trucking is an industry where execs constantly complain about “driver shortages” yet they seemingly ignore every single driver satisfaction survey. In times of good rates, drivers may be more willing to endure heavy-handed mandates but in-cab monitoring has never been popular with drivers … or gantry crane operators or UPS drivers. (Aside from vloggers, who wants a front facing cam at work?) Hostility toward your drivers is NOT a good retention model.
Port of Los Angeles goes off the rails
Kick in the caboose — Don’t look now but rail ops down in SoCal are a dumpster fire. Gene Seroka, the executive director of the Port of Los Angeles, warned at a press conference, “All eyes are focused on improving the rail product. Full stop. The bottom line is that we must take action on this issue immediately to avoid a nationwide logjam.” Although the port had its highest-performing June on record, American Shipper reports, “June imports were down 11% sequentially — by 55,280 TEUs — from imports in May. However, ships with a total capacity of 91,664 TEUs were waiting in Los Angeles’ offshore queue at the end of June.”
Hot ass as a Service
BMW thinks heated seats should be by subscription — The worst two-word phrase in car buying is “connected drive.” Why’s that? It’s models like this that encourage OEMs to piecemeal out premium options via digital paywalls. The Drive reports that Korean BMW buyers would pay “₩24,000 (roughly $18) per month. But you can also pay for a year subscription ($176), a three-year subscription ($283), or you can buy the heated seats permanently ($406).” Maybe you wouldn’t download a car but would you jailbreak one?
Now on demand
SoCal truckers protest AB5
Turning the seas autonomous
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