Tuesday in downtown Sacramento, police blocked off North/South streets near the Capitol all the way from 16th Street down to 3rd Street for a Teamsters Union Protest, causing a massive backup and forcing drivers trying to head south on the numbered streets onto northbound Interstate 5. I was stuck in it following a press conference with the Sacramento District Attorney just a few blocks away. What should have taken 5 minutes ended up taking 30 minutes after being forced onto the freeway. (I’m still irate…)
This was a debacle of epic proportions. But I want to know, who authorized the closure of all of these streets? The Mayor? The Capitol? Assembly Speaker or Senate President? Both? And why do the Teamsters get to shut down Capitol City streets for a march?
The teamsters want Newsom to sign AB 316 to require a human driver in the cab of all autonomous trucks over 10,000 pounds. This could make the new driverless car technology obsolete in California, according to some business groups. Many tech companies in the industry have said if the bill passes they will leave the state as 22 others have already started implementing regulations to begin testing on roads. With no pathway for autonomy in California they don’t see why they would stay here, one business association representative told me.
The Teamsters’ concern is for their jobs, which is understandable. As the Globe reported:
While AB 316 was authored by Assemblywoman Aguiar-Curry, it was introduced with a bipartisan group of legislators, including Assemblymen Tom Lackey (R-Palmdale) and Ash Kalra (D-San Jose). Both parties have also had a few members each oppose the legislation throughout the year, leading to strange non-party coalitions. Democrats have largely been in favor of the bill because due to alleged safety benefits of the bill as well as massive support of the bill coming from unions such as the Teamsters. Republicans, meanwhile, have been mostly for AB 316 because of many rural areas wanting to keep trucking jobs.
“Lawmakers aren’t against technology, but we see the bill as a safer way for companies to test self-driving trucks,” said Lackey. “We want balance because we believe in people, and we believe in public safety. When surprises happen, physics is not your friend.”
Former Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, now with the California Labor Federation, was a prominent figure at the rally/protest, but she was overshadowed by Lindsay Dougherty, Western Regional VP Teamsters Local 399 who warned, “The governor should know he is in big trouble. We had to bring the General President out here to make him do the right thing.” She goes on: “Gavin Newsom would not take a meeting with our General President.” The crowd booed.
Dougherty lathered up the crowd as she called out Gov. Newsom for his “Bullshit.”
“You’re about to see some fucking rage if you don’t sign the bill,” Dougherty said.
“So, I’m going to end this with a chant,” Dougherty said. But it wasn’t the old leftist trope “Hey Hey Ho Ho, Gavin Newsom’s got to go…” Lindsay yelled “Fuck Gavin Newsom” repeatedly. Some in the crowd joined her.
The rally/protest was video recorded and posted to Facebook – At the 27.30 minute mark you can hear Lindsay’s lovely chant – HERE ahead of introducing Lorena Gonzalez who commented, “I love having Lindsay around because nobody can complain about me saying ‘Fuck’ anymore.”
Gov. Newsom and his administration oppose AB 316: “Our state is on the cusp of a new era and cannot risk stifling innovation,” said Office of Business and Economic Development Director Dee Dee Myers earlier this year.
Dougherty told the crowd Newsom said he won’t sign the bill.
As the Globe reported:
“However, the bill also saw increased opposition come from within Newsom’s office. The Department of Finance came out against AB 316 over the cost to the state of $1 million yearly to operate it. Transportation officials have said that regulations should be up to the California Department of Motor Vehicles. Safety advisors said that self-driving cars were not causing many accidents. And, perhaps most critically, the Office of Business and Economic Development said that the state would be hurt economically, with driverless vehicle makers being more inclined to move out of state to develop and test new technology.”
Assembly Bill 316, authored by Assemblywoman Cecilia Aguilar-Curry (D-Winters) would prohibit the operation of an autonomous vehicle with a gross vehicle weight of 10,000 pounds or more on public roads for testing purposes, transporting goods, or transporting passengers without a human safety operator physically present in the autonomous vehicle at the time of operation.
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