Independent Truckers Continue to Protest in California, but Guess Who the Unions Side With?


Trucker protests at Oakland’s ports have entered their fourth day as if there were more problems to add to the supply chain crisis. These protests are problematic because the truckers who are protesting are legitimate.

Protests against California’s new law that treats independent contractors and freelancers as employees are being made. The state is refusing to hear the protesters and they’re going to continue their investigation.

“Truckers originally planned to protest three days in Oakland, but they are now digging in after not receiving a response from the California Governor. Gavin Newsom signed AB5 — a controversial statute which seeks to limit independent contractors and largely classify them employees drivers — into law almost three years ago,” Clarissa Hawes, FreightWaves.

What is the deal with AB5 and its benefits?

We previously wrote that “AB5 restricts the freedom of California workers to be independent contractors.” Instead, it makes them salaried employees. This means that employers must place them under existing laws regarding full-time employees such as retirement and health insurance.

The law was passed in California in 2019. However, the California Trucking Association opposed it and appealed to the Supreme Court. Last month, the court refused to hear the truckers’ appeal and put the law into force. All independent truckers in California are now subject to the law.

Gwendolyn stated that while AB5 exempts certain occupations from its burdensome regulations, the state’s more than 70,000 independent truckers weren’t explicitly included in the original bill.

Protests result from California’s refusal to grant truckers an exemption under AB5, despite the fact that the state has granted exemptions to Uber drivers, Lyft drivers, and accountants as well as attorneys, realtors, and accountants.

The Port of Oakland released a statement Wednesday stating that protests had “effectively shut down operations at shipping terminals located at the Port of Oakland.”

Roberto Bernardo (director of communications at the Port of Oakland) told FreightWaves that since Monday’s trucker protests, port staff has provided regular updates to federal and state officials about the operational status of the port.

Danny Wan, the Port of Oakland’s executive director, stated that while he sympathizes with the concerns of protesters, “prolonged port operations in California for any cause will damage all businesses operating at the ports, and cause California ports further market-share losses to other ports.”

Protesters carried signs that read “The cargo won’t flow until AB5 is gone” and “We demand an exception now.” We are worthy of respect for keeping the USA and the world economy afloat.

Wan stated that California is working to provide resources for independent owner-operators in compliance with AB5, and he hopes the state will soon resolve the matter.

Wan stated that “Truckers are essential to keep goods moving.” “We believe that AB5 implementation can be done in a way that meets the needs of this critical part of the supply chain.”

It should not surprise that union leaders support AB5, despite the fact that many union members working on the frontlines don’t. Since the beginning of the month, port employees have been without a contract and 100 members of their union refused to cross the picket lines of truckers to work Wednesday.

FreightWaves was told by a union member that they were working without a contract. “We support the owner-operators, and we understand their efforts to do what they are trying,” he said.