Supreme Court Ignores Truckers Pleas

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The trucking industry muscles on despite the Supreme Court all but ignoring their pleas. Earlier this summer, the trucking industry brought two cases to the Supreme Court. The two cases are: California Trucking Association Inc. V. Bonta and C.H. Robinson Worldwide Inc. V. Miller. California V. Bonta claimed that California’s local law interfered with federal law. Robinson Worldwide V. Miller claimed the federal law prevents claims against a broker. The Supreme Court refused to comment on either case and sent both cases back to the smaller court. Now truckers and lawmakers everywhere find themselves in a sort of purgatory. They’re unsure of how to proceed. The lawyers who work on behalf of the trucking industry feel the California laws cannot live in concert with the federal laws. What’s worse is that many other states want to adopt the California law, which would bring these problems to even more states.

Local courts did see the cases. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals looked at California V. Bonta. They said that this law doesn’t overstep any federal laws. The employee classification law does not oversee anything from the Motor Carrier Act of 1980. The problem is that many lawmakers think the 9th circuit doesn’t spend enough time thinking about F4A. The Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act, or better known as F4A, is a law that works in conjunction with the Motor Carrier Act. The federal government passed F4A in order to make sure state laws didn’t interfere with the Motor Carrier Act. It states that no provision can alter the price, route, or service of motor carriers or brokers. However, California’s new law, Assembly Bill 5 (AB5), passed in 2019, does just that.

What Does it all Mean?

That’s a lot of legal speak to say something very simple. California’s new law, AB5, requires employers to classify all workers as employees. This entitles their employees to health care, a minimum wage, paid breaks, and healthcare benefits. However, the Motor Carrier Act deregulated the trucking industry to make it easier than ever to become a trucker. These truckers like the freedom of owning their own company. They get to pick their jobs, negotiate pricing, and most importantly, set their own hours. It’s freedom and what they consider the American dream. AB5 plans to take that all away. It will alter prices, routes, and services, just like F4A says not to do.

Many industries found loopholes to avoid AB5. The most notable industry is the rideshare industry. Ironically, because this is the industry that many lawmakers targeted when they wrote AB5. However, with the heads-up and campaigns, companies like Uber and Lyft managed to get lobbyists and pay millions for their exemptions. The trucking industry didn’t have that luxury. Instead, they were in the middle of a pandemic. Truckers were some of the few people who never stopped working amidst the shutdown. By the time the dust settled, they were stunned that their private companies were now part of larger companies. Sure, they got healthcare, but they lost a lot more.

The Supreme Court Could Solve Everything

Many think that state laws just don’t make sense in trucking. This is because the industry rarely stays in one state. Drivers travel all across the country. Questions arise the moment a driver leaves the 9th circuit. For instance, Costco hired a broker company, C.H. Robinson, to find safe drivers. They hired a driver and claimed that their new hire was a safe driver to drive for Costco. This driver caused an accident that left Allen Miller a quadriplegic. Now Costco claims that the broker is to blame for not hiring a safe driver as the broker company promised. This case spreads from the 7th circuit to the 11th circuit. A federal ruling would clear up the complexity of these new local laws.

The Supreme Court doesn’t work year round. They’re on hiatus until October. There’s no telling if they’ll see the cases again. If they don’t, local lawmakers must navigate laws out of their jurisdiction in order to solve CH Robinson, V. Miller. So many truckers feel neglected by their federal government. Unfortunately, these feelings are only validated by the Supreme Court’s actions, or lack thereof.

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