California Trucking Association says AB5 would ‘upend’ industry

June 6, 2022

Mark Schremmer


The California Trucking Association called the solicitor general’s brief regarding its lawsuit against Assembly Bill 5 “head-scratchingly wrong” and said that if the law is allowed to go into effect “surely will upend the operation of the trucking industry.”

A little more than a week after the Office of Solicitor General recommended that the U.S. Supreme Court not hear its challenge to a state misclassification law, the trucking group filed a brief of its own.

The California Trucking Association contends that AB5 violates the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act, dubbed the F4A, and could force the end of the trucking industry’s owner-operator model. The solicitor general, however, in a brief filed on May 24 advised the court to deny the California Trucking Association’s petition, saying that AB5 would not have a significant impact on prices, routes or services.

The brief filed by the California Trucking Association on June 3 paints a much different picture for the Supreme Court.

“The government’s brief calls to mind the question famously posed by Chico Marx: ‘Who you gonna believe, me or your own eyes?’ The government thus postulates that AB5’s requirements are easily avoided; that the law may have no impact at all on carriers or owner-operators; that the decision below simply follows this Court’s (F4A) precedent; and that there is no conflict in the circuits,” the California Trucking Association wrote. “But each of these submissions is head-scratchingly wrong. In fact, AB5 was designed to, and surely will, upend the operation of the trucking industry.”


AB5, which California passed into law in 2019, codified the ABC Test, making it difficult for companies to hire independent contractors for work that is inside the usual course of the hiring entity’s business. Many truckers believe the law would end the owner-operator model in the industry.

The California Trucking Association argues that AB5 violates the F4A, which prevents states from enforcing a law or regulation related to a price, route, or service of motor carriers. The U.S. Southern District Court of California granted a preliminary injunction to stop the state from enforcing the law on motor carriers.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled 2-1 that California’s AB5 “is a generally applicable labor law” and called for the removal of a preliminary injunction. The California Trucking Association then filed a petition to the U.S. Supreme Court. The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association was one of more than a dozen organizations to file amicus briefs in support of the California Trucking Association’s petition.

Although the Supreme Court has not decided whether or not to hear the case, it asked the U.S. Solicitor General in November to weigh in on it.

In May, the solicitor general recommended that the Supreme Court deny the California Trucking Association’s petition for a hearing. The Supreme Court is not bound to the recommendation.

The injunction remains in place until the Supreme Court makes a decision.

California Trucking Association brief

The trucking group told the U.S. Supreme Court that AB5 would have a significant negative impact on the industry.

“There is no real doubt on these points,” The California Trucking Association wrote. “Numerous amici that are users of trucking services – who have no ax to grind in this litigation and whose only goal is obtaining affordable and efficient shipping – explain that AB5 will have profoundly destructive effects.”

The California Trucking Association specifically cited OOIDA’s amicus brief which stated that AB5 “would cause motor carriers and owner-operators to bear the substantial, if not insurmountable, costs and burdens associated with shifting to an employer/employee business model.” LL

Lucas Oil

Mark Schremmer, senior editor, joined Land Line in 2015. An award-winning journalist and former assistant news editor at The Topeka Capital-Journal, he brings fresh ideas, solid reporting skills, and more than two decades of journalism experience to our staff.