Trucker protests shut down the Port of Oakland in California’s Bay Area on Thursday, the major cargo hub announced.
The truckers, in their fourth day of demonstrations, have stopped working in response to California’s labor law, Assembly Bill 5. The law was passed in 2019 and requires companies to define some independent contractors as employees.
Lawmakers hailed the law as a way to reduce employees being misclassified as gig workers, which denies the workers certain basic protections, including minimum wage, paid sick days and health insurance benefits.
But the truckers, which The New York Times described as primarily independent owners and operators, say the law would require them to choose between obtaining jobs with specific trucking companies or obtain licensing and insurance to operate as a small business.
There are some 70,000 truckers who work as independent contractors in California.
Immediately after its passage, ride-sharing companies Uber and Lyft challenged AB5 in court, saying that reclassifying drivers as employees would drive up costs and be detrimental to their bottom line.
Californians voted in favor of Proposition 22, which would allow companies to continue to use gig workers.
A Superior Court judge struck down Prop 22 in October 2020, but allowed Uber and Lyft to continue to be exempt from AB5 while the case continues. Truckers, however, were not given an exemption when it went into effect June 30 after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case.
The California Trucker’s Association took issue with the ruling and called on the state Legislature and Gov. Gavin Newsom to take action, KRON-TV in San Francisco reported.
“Gasoline has been poured on the fire that is our ongoing supply chain crisis,” the organization said in a statement.
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