The PRO Act would create confusion and jeopardize a well-established business model in the trucking industry, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association told members of the U.S. Senate in a letter sent on July 10.
“While we believe there is much that must be done to improve working conditions and compensation in trucking, the PRO Act would create confusion for drivers and motor carriers and jeopardize small-business truckers’ ability to continue working as an independent contractor,” OOIDA wrote. “We, therefore, must oppose the PRO Act.”
The Protecting the Right to Organize Act, S567, would utilize the controversial ABC Test to determine if a worker is an employee or an independent contractor. Similar to California’s Assembly Bill 5, opponents of the ABC Test contend that the B prong of the test would force current leased owner-operators “to be reclassified as an employee or make significant changes to their operations that may not be in their best interest.”
During a House hearing in April, Rep. Kevin Kiley, R-Calif., spoke against any attempts to roll out the ABC Test on a national level.
“The Chamber of Progress published an economic analysis, which shows that implementing AB5’s rigid ABC Test as a national rule would cost the full-time or part-time jobs of between 3.2 and 3.8 million independent contractors,” Kiley said. “(That’s) equivalent to roughly half the jobs lost in the Great Recession.”
In June, the Senate HELP Committee advanced the PRO Act bill, which is sponsored by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.
OOIDA sent the July 10 letter to all members of the U.S. Senate as part of an effort to prevent the bill from moving forward.
“We recognize that some truck drivers are certainly misclassified and are open to working with Congress to address the issue,” OOIDA wrote. “Misclassification in trucking is generally done through lease-purchase agreements, which are schemes where motor carriers lease a tuck to a driver with the promise of independence and entrepreneurial opportunity. But because of the terms of these arrangements, drivers have no real chance to ever obtain this.”
OOIDA told senators that these lease-purchase arrangements and removing the motor carrier overtime exemption in the Fair Labor Standards Act are where they should be focusing their attention rather than forcing successful business arrangements to cease.
“Trucking is a challenging career, and there are many changes that should be made to improve compensation and working conditions for drivers,” OOIDA wrote. “We look forward to working with Congress to navigate these challenging issues to find solutions that raise workplace standards for all drivers in the industry. Addressing these issues can be accomplished without abandoning the owner-operator model.” LL