California bill would make retail stores liable for labor abuses committed by trucking companies

April 11, 2018

Mark Schremmer


A bill in the California Senate aims to hold customers of trucking companies jointly liable for labor law violations.

SB1402, which was introduced by Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, would discourage big retailers from contracting with trucking companies known for taking advantage of its drivers.

The bill is in response to an investigative series by USA Today that alleged large retail companies have enabled the exploitation of port truck drivers. The article stated that “Target, Costco, Hewlett-Packard and many others have benefitted from California port trucking companies that forced drivers into debt, made them work up to 20 hours a day, and sometimes paid them pennies per hour.”

USA Today also reported that more than 1,100 California port truck drivers have filed labor complaints since 2008.

Many port truck drivers claim to be misclassified as independent contractors.

“With the introduction of this bill, port truck drivers like me feel hope that the trucking companies will finally stop cheating us and breaking the law to cut costs,” Gustavo Villa, a California truck driver, said in a news release. “I have gone on strike many times with my fellow drivers to protest our abusive treatment.”

The bill would require a port drayage motor carrier who enters into an agreement with a retail customer to disclose their violation history.

“Holding customers of trucking companies jointly liable for future labor law violations by port drayage motor carriers who they engage, where the customer has received advanced notice of their record of unsatisfied judgments for labor law violations, will exert pressure across the supply chain to protect drayage drivers from further exploitation,” the bill states.