In a recent win for organized labor, Teamsters in California finalize a settlement with Pacific 9 Transportation in Carson, California that allows truckers previously classified as “independent contractors” to share rights enjoyed by employees.
The decision came as a result of an agreement brokered by the National Labor Relations Board, a federal body created to enforce labor laws and protect the rights of organized workers. Frequently, employers in the trucking industry prefer to classify drivers as “owner-operators” to prevent them from utilizing federally mandated benefits afforded to full-time employees. However, “independent contractors” are afforded certain freedoms in exchange for sacrificing certain legal protections and benefits. According to drivers for Pacific 9, that was not the case under the terms of their employment.
According to the Teamsters lawyer, achieving recognition as employees allows the “independent contractor” truck drivers to enjoy the same legal status as other employees. According to this Teamsters-backed Change to Win labor federation, there are an estimated 49,000 of the nation’s 75,000 truck drivers being deprived their employee rights due to the common practice of misclassification used by employers like Pacific 9. Not only does misclassification deprived drivers of many rights, it is estimated that the practice enables trucking companies to evade over half $1 billion in annual workers compensation and unemployment benefits as well as income taxes required from employers.
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