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Truckers protest gig-work law at Oakland and 2 Southern California ports

By Augusta Saraiva and Ngai Yeung | Bloomberg

Truckers servicing some of the US’s busiest ports are staging protests Wednesday as state-level labor rules that change their employment status begin to go into effect, creating another choke point in stressed US supply chains.

Transport workers are demonstrating at the California port gateways of Los Angeles, Long Beach and Oakland, the Harbor Trucking Association said in a statement.

California’s Assembly Bill 5 requires workers satisfy a three-part test to be considered independent contractors, or else be seen as employees entitled to job benefits. The state’s truck owner-operators must now comply with AB5 after the Supreme Court on June 30 refused to review a case challenging the legislation that sets out the tests for employment-status classification.

The trucking industry relies on contractors — who until now have had flexibility to operate on their own terms — and has fought to be exempt from state regulations for years. About 70,000 truck owner-operators who form the bedrock of California’s transport industry will be affected by the change.

More than 70% of truckers serving some of the country’s largest ports are owner-operators, and AB5 will govern their relationships with carriers, brokers and shippers in most cases, according to the California Trucking Association, which brought the legal challenge.

“The frustration with the total lack of regard by the state of California for a business model that has provided thousands of men and women an opportunity to build and grow a business is now blatantly obvious,” the Harbor Trucking association said. “With so many outstanding legal questions regarding AB5 and how it impacts the future of those who want to retain their independent status, it is no wonder why these truckers have taken matters into their own hands.”

Spokespeople for the ports of Los Angeles and Oakland said the hubs are monitoring the situation. The Port of Long Beach didn’t respond to a request for comment. Los Angeles Port Police referred Bloomberg News to the operation itself.

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