Pelosi asks House Dems to vote against Denham amendment on trucker pay

April 26, 2018

Guest Author


House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., is asking her fellow Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives to oppose an amendment that threatens truck driver pay.

In a letter Wednesday, Pelosi told her colleagues to vote no on an amendment to the Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization that was sponsored by Jeff Denham, R-Calif. A vote on the amendment was expected Thursday afternoon.

“The Denham amendment would roll back guaranteed meal and rest breaks for drivers, eroding a key safeguard against fatigue, crashes and vehicular deaths,” Pelosi’s letter states. “This wrongheaded amendment denies truck drivers the voluntary lunch or rest break that they are guaranteed in more than 20 states by state law, which in many cases have been on the books for decades.”

Pelosi’s letter also cites opposition to the Denham amendment from groups like the Teamsters and from owner-operators. The letter characterizes the amendment as “a handout to special interests and big corporations who have lobbied for its passage.”

“It is particularly cynical and outrageous that this amendment would make these legislative changes retroactive to 1994, wiping out dozens of pending lawsuits in support of workers’ rights and erasing 24 years of case law,” the letter states.

If approved, Denham’s amendment would pre-empt any state laws that address compensation and benefits for drivers, according to the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association. OOIDA issued its own Call to Action for members on Wednesday, asking them to contact their lawmakers and oppose the amendment.

If Amendment No. 79 is added to the bill and enacted into law, motor carriers would only have to pay drivers on a piecework or per-mile basis. Gone could be any chance at pay for detention time, safety inspections, paperwork, or any other work-related tasks that do not involve racking up miles. It could also gut the ability of states to individually address these sorts of issues in the future, according to OOIDA.

Denham has attempted to get the amendment enacted numerous times over recent years, always meeting with opposition from truck drivers concerned about the unintended consequences of the overly broad language.

“Congressman Denham continues to push his F4A amendment at the behest of ATA,” OOIDA President Todd Spencer said in the Call to Action. “They’ve had every opportunity to narrow the scope of the language, and they’ve simply refused to do so. The amendment being considered now is overly broad and we’re concerned it goes well beyond addressing state meal and rest break laws.”

OOIDA’s Call to Action asks truck drivers to call the Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121 or visit and sending a letter in opposition to Amendment No. 79 to HR4 through the tools available there.