OOIDA encourages support for truckers’ overtime bill

November 13, 2023

Mark Schremmer


Last week, a bill to remove the motor carrier overtime exemption was reintroduced in the House and Senate. Now, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association is rallying its more than 150,000 members to contact their lawmakers about supporting the bill.

The Guaranteeing Overtime for Truckers Act is a bipartisan effort that would simply amend the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 to require that truckers receive overtime compensation when they work more than 40 hours in a week. Sens. Alex Padilla, D-Calif., and Edward J. Markey, D-Mass., introduced S3273, while Reps. Jeff Van Drew, R-N.J., and Mark Takano, D-Calif., introduced HR6359.

OOIDA emailed its members on Monday, Nov. 13 asking them to encourage support for the GOT Truckers Act.

“Contact your lawmakers and urge them to co-sponsor HR6359 and S3273, the GOT Truckers Act, today,” OOIDA wrote. “Explain that truckers can easily work 50, 60 or 70 hours in a week but not be paid for all this time because of the FLSA. Tell them that fair compensation will also keep more experienced drivers behind the wheel, which improves safety on our nation’s roads for all users.”

About the bill

Ironically, the reasoning behind the exemption in 1938 was to discourage truck drivers from working beyond 40 hours. However, the reality is that truck drivers, who generally are paid by the mile, often work 70 hours without being compensated for all of the time they spend on the job while they are parked.

OOIDA believes the GOT Truckers Act is a first step toward ensuring that a truck driver’s time is valued. Currently, that is not the case in the industry, as truck drivers report having to wait at shipping and receiving facilities for hours without being compensated for that time.

“America’s truckers keep our nation’s economy moving, and without the hard work of these men and women, our supply chain would grind to a halt,” OOIDA President Todd Spencer said. “Unbelievably, trucking is one of the only professions in America that is denied guaranteed overtime pay. We are way past due as a nation in valuing the sacrifices that truckers make every single day. This starts with simply paying truckers for all of the time they work.”

OOIDA also emailed congressional staff on Monday, Nov. 13 to explain the bill.

“Carriers often pay drivers by the miles they drive, so they aren’t paid for delays or time waiting to be loaded or unloaded,” OOIDA wrote. “Shippers, receivers, carriers and others have no motivation to value all of a driver’s time, which has led to drivers routinely working 60, 70 or even 80 hours in a week. This will finally ensure that all of a driver’s working hours are valued.”

In addition to explaining to lawmakers what the bill does, OOIDA also explained what the bill doesn’t do.

The GOT Truckers Act does not:

  • Establish any specific rate or method of pay
  • Restrict the U.S. Department of Transportation’s ability to regulate a driver’s working hours or put a limit on the hours a driver can work
  • Implement any overtime requirements for independent contractors

ATA’s claims

The American Trucking Associations, which represents large fleets, opposes the GOT Truckers Act.

“This proposal is nothing more than a thinly veiled attempt to boost trial attorneys’ fees,” ATA President Chris Spear said. “It would reduce drivers’ paychecks and decimate trucking jobs by upending the pay models that for 85 years have provided family-sustaining wages while growing the U.S. supply chain.”

ATA claimed that truck drivers make an average salary of nearly $70,000, while the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics lists the 2022 median pay for heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers at $49,920.

OOIDA called ATA’s statement about the bill being an attempt to help trial lawyers “laughable.”

“What’s really happening is actors throughout the supply chain – shippers, receivers, carriers and others – don’t want to pay drivers for all of their working hours,” OOIDA wrote.

As an example, OOIDA referenced a quote from Avery Vise, vice president of trucking for transportation consultancy FTR, at a national transportation summit in 2022.

“In theory, drivers would have to be paid for a lot of time that they’re not currently paid for, which would not be sustainable,” Vise said. LL