Andy Levin (D-Mich.) introduced a contentious bill in April to compensate truckers for their overtime hours. It would repeal the motor carrier exemption in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which excludes many drivers from overtime pay protection. Many truckers are not eligible for overtime pay even though they’re putting in the overtime hours. The US Department of Transportation noted that this exclusion, along with others, is part of a supply chain vulnerability. It was this vulnerability that inspired Levin to create the bill. Even though paying workers for overtime makes sense and sounds reasonable, many people in Congress are ready to fight this bill if it gains any momentum.
The National Industrial Transportation League (NITL) has no faith that the bill will get much momentum in Congress. The numbers don’t make sense, and they claim that it’s not sustainable. Jeff Tucker, the chairman and CEO of NITL, called the bill a potential threat. His company hopes to deregulate the freight industry. This bill would cause more regulations, and furthermore, the NITL doesn’t believe it’s sustainable. Paying truckers more for the hours they already work would make things even more difficult for the trucking industry. The NITL is already ready to do what it takes to make sure the bill doesn’t reach the president’s desk.
Supporters of the Overtime Pay Bill
However, there are some who support the bill. The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) and the Truck Safety Coalition (TSC) are the two biggest supporters of the bill. On the House floor, they already have eight sponsors, seven Democrats and one Republican. They believe that paying drivers for their overtime hours will create a safer industry overall. Drivers currently have to compete with long hours that they aren’t being paid for. This creates fatigue and speeding in order to meet their deadlines. If they can pass the bill, they hope it will create less fatigue and fewer regulatory violations, which in turn would reduce crash rates and increase driver safety.
Levin knows that if this bill is to pass, it may take a lot of work. Never in the history of Congress has it been harder to pass a bill. With high-paid lobbyists and people who are only interested in protecting their money, a bill like this doesn’t pass in Congress very often. However, with more help from companies like OOIDA and TSC, they can find the money to fight the lobbyists. The key right now is awareness of the bill to gain more supporters for the cause.