OOIDA to California: Adding truck parking will help supply chain

October 26, 2021

Mark Schremmer

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If California wants to fix problems with the supply chain, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association said the state should start focusing on the needs of truck drivers.

On Monday, Oct. 25, OOIDA wrote a letter to California Gov. Gavin Newsom in response to the governor’s recent executive order on supply chain resilience. In the letter, OOIDA tackled the lack of truck parking, the problems with increasing truck weight limits, and the negative effects of the state’s Assembly Bill 5.

“Small-business truckers will be necessary to solving the current supply chain crisis,” OOIDA wrote in a letter signed by President Todd Spencer. “Providing additional truck parking, limiting any vehicle weight allowances, and hearing out their concerns will help improve their working conditions and help them get the job done.”

Truck parking

OOIDA said that one of the biggest challenges truckers face in California is a shortage of safe places to park.

“The lack of truck parking makes it difficult for drivers to find a safe place to stop when they need to rest or comply with federal break requirements,” OOIDA wrote. “As a result, drivers are forced to spend more and more of their on-duty time finding a place to park rather than keeping goods moving. Unpredictable delays and scheduling problems during this time of enormous supply chain disruption make it even more difficult for drivers to plan their day and find safe parking.”

Newsom’s executive order directed his office to identify non-state sites that could be available to address short-term storage needs to address the supply chain crisis. OOIDA said that it believes finding adequate parking for truckers is necessary to improve the supply chain and asked California to identify non-state sites where this can be achieved.

Weight limits

Another aspect of the executive order directed the California Department of Transportation to identify priority freight routes to be considered for a temporary exemption to gross vehicle weight limits.

OOIDA opposes an increase to the weight limits.

“Providing exemptions for increased weights not only diminishes and accelerates the deterioration of highway infrastructure but also has the potential to specifically hurt small-business truckers,” OOIDA wrote. “Permitting trucks to operate at higher weights has immediate economic implications for small trucking businesses who need to increase their hauling capacity to compete for business.

“Unfortunately, previous weight limit increases have demonstrated heavier trucks don’t lead to higher paychecks for professional drivers.”

AB5

OOIDA also used the letter to address California’s AB5, a worker classification law that would make it difficult for some owner-operators to remain independent contractors. AB5 codifies the California Supreme Court’s controversial ABC Test. Under the ABC Test, workers can’t be considered independent contractors unless they are performing work outside the usual course of the hiring entity’s business.

AB5 was passed into California law in 2019, but an injunction has prevented it from being enforced on the trucking industry. The injunction will remain in place as the U.S. Supreme Court decides whether or not to take the California Trucking Association’s case against AB5. OOIDA also is opposed to AB5 and submitted an amicus brief in support of the California Trucking Association.

“If this law were to take effect, many owner-operators would have to abandon a business model that has worked well for them for years,” OOIDA wrote. “In the short term, many truckers, whether they are California residents or not, would likely no longer operate in the state for fear of unknowingly violating the law.”

OOIDA also said that the California Department of Industrial Relations has “refused to provide any guidance” on specific questions about the law.

“The state should respond to these questions and take action to avoid unnecessary and self-inflicted problems if the law takes effect,” OOIDA wrote.

The Association supports efforts to improve working conditions for port drayage drivers and all other truckers and believes California’s focus should be on questionable lease-purchase agreements.

“These are schemes where the lessee (truck driver) leases their truck to the lessor (motor carrier) when the motor carrier and the lessor are the same entity,” OOIDA wrote. “In reality, these drivers are indentured servants who are paid pennies on the dollar, will likely never own the truck, and have zero independence.” LL

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.