Trucking, one of the main independent contractor sectors falling under AB 5, was temporarily given an exemption to the new law on Tuesday at the U.S. District Court in San Diego.
AB 5 may be unconstitutional
The trucking industry was the first of many industries to sue the state of California over the now in-effect AB 5 law. AB 5 has drastically changed what being an independent contractor and being an employee is in California, forcing many businesses to either heavily reduce the number of independent contractors working for them, or reducing the hours and workloads of many so only a few can be full-time employees.
U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez agreed with the trucking groups over their claims that AB 5 is unconstitutional, temporarily exempting them from AB 5. Specifically, the trucking groups argued that, because AB 5 wouldn’t let most truckers set their own schedules, it would go against the interstate commerce clause of the Constitution. The FAAAA preemption, a 1994 provision of the clause which says that states are prohibited enforcing laws that give “a price, route or service of a motor carrier with respect to the transportation of property”, was cited in the judge’s ruling. Under that provision, Judge Benitez said that the truckers are likely to win their case later this year.
The judge also added that stopping AB 5 from including truckers would be in the public interest as the sudden loss of over 70,000 independent truckers in California would delay and damage the transportation of vital goods such as food and gasoline.
Praise from independent truckers
“I can’t tell you how happy we are,” exclaimed Roberto Fox, an independent trucker who works ‘all over California’. “We were facing a lot of loss. I had to start looking at places in Arizona and Nevada to move to because I wouldn’t be able to do it anymore.
Not just for the money either. I need to say when I can and can’t work because I have a son who is special and need those odd hours to help him. I couldn’t do that with AB 5.”
“This is a great after Christmas gift,” expressed Roberto, audibly tearing up with emotion.
Scorn from AB 5 supporters
While those against are celebrating the first court victory against AB 5, supporters of the new law have faced the new temporary exemption with disdain.
Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego), author of AB 5, has long defended her bill despite a rapidly growing number of Californians disagreeing with the new law. Shortly after the judges decision she released a statement, refusing to budge on the issue.
“For decades, trucking companies have profited from misclassifying drivers as independent contractors, taking away rights such as meal and rest periods and fair pay,” stated Assemblywoman Gonzalez. “We need to return jobs in the trucking industry to good, middle class careers.”