Monday, May 20, 2013

Jersey Strong! State lawmakers vote to protect truckers against misclassification

The New Jersey General Assembly this afternoon cracked down on the misclassification of port and parcel delivery truck drivers as independent operators. By a 42-30 vote, lawmakers sided with the Teamsters and other pro-labor groups by approving strict penalties for companies who attempt to cheat the system and drivers.

Currently, some companies shirk their responsibilities by claiming that drivers who in practice work for them are actually contract workers. That spares them from paying Social Security, Medicare, unemployment insurance and employee benefits, including overtime pay. Assembly Bill 1578 makes it more difficult for trucking companies involved in short-distance hauling - known as drayage trucking - or package delivery to engage in this unfair practice. As stated in the legislation:
[T]his bill creates a presumption that a work arrangement in the drayage trucking or parcel delivery trucking industry is an employer-employee relationship unless the party receiving the services can overcome the legal presumption of employment. Under the bill, trucking services performed in the drayage trucking industry or parcel delivery industry by an individual for remuneration are deemed to be employment unless and until it is shown to the satisfaction of the Department of Labor and Workforce Development that:
1. The individual has been and will continue to be free from control or direction over the performance of that service, both under the individual’s contract of service and in fact;
2. The service is either outside the usual course of the business for which the service is performed, or the service is performed outside of all the places of business of the employer for which the service is performed; and
3. The individual is customarily engaged in an independently established trade, occupation, profession, or business.
For years, corporations wanting to employ their workers on the cheap have denied hard-working drivers their proper due. At the same time, trucking companies trying to do the right thing were put at a disadvantage because they were paying higher labor costs. We're glad New Jersey lawmakers see that good drivers and good companies should be protected against unscrupulous actors.

That said, don't give up the fight now! The bill will go to the state Senate for consideration. Let's make sure hard-working truckers get the fair pay they deserve.