The trucking industry is stepping up efforts to pass legislation that would curb the ability of states to regulate the business and make it harder for drivers to sue their employers for back pay, according to The Wall Street Journal.
A group of drivers from some of the largest carriers in the country, including Ryder System, Inc., U.S. Xpress Inc., Swift Transportation Co., J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc. and Werner Enterprises Inc. visited last week with Democratic senators from the Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation.
They are trying to convince lawmakers to include the trucking language, which would bar states from enforcing laws that go beyond federal rules governing trucking routes and freight rates, in a bill reauthorizing aviation programs.
The trucking industry has been battling states for the last several years, especially in California and Washington, over how far the states can go in regulating how truck drivers are paid and how often they must rest. Several states require employers to pay employees for time spent waiting to load and unload, while most trucking companies pay drivers by the mile, or what’s known as a piece rate.
In recent years, thousands of truck drivers have sued the large trucking companies that employ them, claiming in class action cases they are owed back pay for time spent refueling, taking meal and rest breaks or loading shipments. The language in the aviation bill being considered would likely halt lawsuits for back pay brought by drivers in California.
A similar provision, sponsored by Rep. Jeff Denham (R., Calif.) was included in the House version of the highway funding bill, but was dropped from the final version before it was passed and then signed into law by President Barack Obama in December.
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