American Trucking Associations ‘Gravely Concerned’ About Bill Threatening Owner-Operators
Washington D.C. – The most influential trucking industry trade group on Capitol Hill is now coming out swinging against legislation many stakeholders believe poses a serious threat to the survival of thousands of owner-operators.
The American Trucking Associations (ATA) is joining with a host of other trucking industry groups and speaking out against the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act of 2021.
“ATA has a number of concerns with the PRO Act, but we are gravely concerned with the legislation’s language related to independent contractors,” Sean McNally, ATA’s vice president of public affairs, told Transportation Nation Network (TNN). “At least 350,000 commercial drivers choose to be a part of the trucking industry as independent owner-operators and make a good salary in doing so. These entrepreneurs play a critical role in our industry and the PRO Act would suddenly restrict commercial drivers from choosing this type of career path.”
Specifically, the PRO Act amends the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) by imposing an “ABC test” to determine whether a worker is an employee or independent contractor.
The so-called “B prong” of the test classifies a worker as an “employee” of the company unless that worker performs a service “outside the usual course of the business of the employer.”
Trucking stakeholders fear the PRO Act’s ABC test could, in practice, eventually be expanded to include non-union businesses.
This scenario, many worry, would ultimately pave the way to reclassification of all owner-operators who might operate under another motor carrier’s authority.
Whether the owner-operator leases his/her equipment from the carrier via a lease/purchase agreement or leases his/her equipment on with the carrier to obtain benefits such as discounts on insurance, fuel and/or maintenance costs, trucking groups argue these drivers should not be classified as employees, and doing so would effectively wipe out the industry’s longstanding independent contractor model.
“For these drivers, and millions of other workers in the country who choose to be independent contractors, the PRO Act would not protect their rights, but would strip them of the freedom to work for themselves,” McNally asserted.
On Tuesday evening, the PRO Act moved one step closer to becoming law when the U.S. House of Representatives passed the bill in a vote of 225-206.
Only five Republicans voted in favor and one Democrat opposed it.
The fight now moves to the U.S. Senate where Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), who is also a sponsor, will look to secure enough Republican votes to pass it through the chamber before sending it to President Joe Biden’s desk for final approval.
TransportationNation.com will soon have more on the battle over the PRO Act, so make sure you are following us on social media or sign up for free membership and receive breaking news alerts and much more.