Truck drivers took to the 710 freeway on Wednesday to slow traffic in protest of Assembly Bill 5 commonly known as the gig worker bill.
Assembly Bill 5 or AB5 aims at classifying independent contractors as employees of the companies they work for. The bill largely targeted companies like Uber and Lyft who consider their drivers to be independent of the company.
Many truck drivers have been impacted by AB5 as it classifies them as employees of the companies they drive for. This is an issue for many truck drivers as it is common for drivers to own their own trucks but contract with companies they drive for. These drivers feel that they should not be classified as employees.
In order to demonstrate their disdain for AB5, hundreds of truck drivers slowed traffic on the 710 freeway leading to the Port of Long Beach and Port of Los Angeles. The drivers formed a convoy that slowly moved toward the ports and at times stopped traffic altogether. Some drivers also staged a work stoppage at the port to further protest the bill.
Although the protests centered around the ports, The Port of Long Beach ensured that the protests would not affect the daily operations.
“Access to Port of Long Beach terminals and roadways remains open during the AB5-related protests. Our Harbor Patrol is working to ensure the safety and First Amendment rights of all concerned. We are aware of the issues surrounding the requirements of AB5, and we are working with our drayage partners and other stakeholders to ensure that goods can be delivered safely and quickly through the supply chain,” said Port of Long Beach Executive Director Mario Cordero.
AB5 requires that workers pass the three-part ABC test to continue to be considered an independent contractor. Part of the test requires that the independent contractor does work that is outside of the company’s usual employee’s work and independent truck drivers do not pass that portion of the test. The California Trucking Association went to the supreme court to attempt to keep the law from affecting truck drivers but the request was denied by the court.
As work continues at the Port of Long Beach amid recovery from supply chain issues truck drivers are having to navigate the new laws. Many feel that AB5 gives workers more rights as it guarantees a minimum wage and can allow workers to obtain benefits from their employers. However, some truck drivers feel AB5 is seen as a restraint on independent businesses that many truck drivers operate.
By Morgan Trivitt