Questions remain about the PRO Act and AB5

May 19, 2021

SJ Munoz

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Unanswered questions and concerns about the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act and AB5 still exist – and seem to increase by the day.

On the May 19 edition of “Live From Exit 24,” OOIDA Executive Vice President Lewie Pugh, OOIDA Director of Legislative Affairs Bryce Mongeon and Land Line Magazine Senior Editor Mark Schremmer joined host Mike Matousek to provide their expertise on these proposals.

Mongeon opened the show with an overview of the PRO Act and where it stands now.

“The PRO Act focuses on labor organizing and union rights,” Mongeon said. “For our purposes, it determines who is an employee and who is a contractor. Our concern is that it would expand the definition of who is an employee. It’s passed the House but has stalled in Senate. It’s very difficult to see a way forward for this legislation, but we are still concerned and keeping our eye on it.”

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The future of owner-operators remains high on the list of concerns.  

“I’m not saying there couldn’t be some good come out of this,” Pugh said “We all know when we lease to carriers they offer a lot of benefits. I understand why you would have to do it. You need to get yourself as independent as you can. The safest is to be your own authority and your own customer.”

As the conversation shifted to misclassification, problems with lease-purchase agreements were also discussed.

“It would give people the opportunity to organize, but that’s not necessarily a good solution,” Mongeon said. “Classification issues we would like to see addressed require a lot more nuance. From our perspective it’s about what’s going to work best in the trucking industry. We just don’t know how this would work. There’s too many unknowns as to how it would work practically.”

Schremmer said that while there are genuine cases of truck drivers being misclassified, particularly in some lease-purchase arrangements, most truckers seem to agree that AB5 takes a “sledgehammer” to a more delicate problem.

“When I talk to leased owner-operators, they don’t want it (AB5),” Schremmer said. “AB5 has been in effect since January 2020, but there’s been an injunction in place for it to not affect trucking. This could ultimately end up in the Supreme Court.”

The problem is far more complex than the legislation proposed to fix it for OOIDA and its members.

“For the people we represent this isn’t a black-and-white issue,” Mongeon said. “Our members are independent contractors and employees. We are looking out for both of those interests. Looking for instances where people are being taking advantage of. We’re trying to improve working conditions for drivers.”

OOIDA talk show

“Live From Exit 24” is scheduled for 11 a.m. Central every other Wednesday. Listeners can tune in to the show on the Live From Exit 24 website, OOIDA Facebook page or on OOIDA’s YouTube channel. The next episode airs Wednesday, June 2.

Survey

“Live From Exit 24” launched as a way to expand OOIDA’s communication with members and to hear directly from drivers across the industry. OOIDA is asking for truck drivers to fill out a survey to let the Association know how you are liking the show so far. Help guide what’s addressed during the program. The survey is here. LL

MATS

SJ Munoz joined the Land Line Media team in 2020. He brings a variety of skills to the job as he has experience as a reporter, photographer and in radio. He’s also written for Omaha Magazine, the Lawrence Journal-World, and PrepsKC.com.