- U.S. legislators again introduced a bill aiming to make overtime a possibility for many truckers, whereby the legislation would remove a Fair Labor Standards Act exemption for the industry.
- A bipartisan group introduced the measure Thursday, seeking to switch a practice that has restricted many drivers from the extra pay for over 80 years, according to lead sponsor Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Calif.
- “Requiring overtime will create an incentive for the shippers, receivers, and carriers to get cargo loaded and unloaded — keeping truckers and our supply chain moving,” Padilla said Thursday in support of the bill.
Drivers frequently work over 70 hours per week, but federal law from 1938 denies truckers guaranteed overtime pay, making them miss out on time-and-a-half after 40 work hours each week, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association said in a statement.
But the American Trucking Associations noted in a statement owner-operators would not even benefit from the bill. “The bill would not affect owner-operators, who, as independent contractors, are not covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act,” President and CEO Chris Spear said.
The U.S. Department of Transportation pushed the measure last year, prompting bills from the House in April and Senate in September to change the status quo. Spurred by a presidential executive order in 2021 to address supply chain issues, the department recommended in a February 2022 report to eliminate the FLSA motor carrier overtime exemption.
The report noted high barriers to entry for drivers, including costs, time and training. Challenging working conditions, including long hours away from home, have also “contributed to high turnover rates in long-haul trucking,” and wages are increasing in other jobs, such as construction, warehousing and local truck transportation, the report said.
“With this discount on a trucker’s time, ‘big trucking’ has led a race to the bottom for wages that treats truckers as expendable components rather than the professionals they are,” OOIDA President Todd Spencer said in a statement.
The new bill includes the same language as last year, but there’s broader support and energy with this reintroduction, OOIDA also said in a statement to Trucking Dive.
The ATA further criticized the proposal, though, with Spear saying it would reduce drivers’ paychecks and decimate trucking jobs.
“Truckload drivers today are earning nearly $70,000 on average plus benefits, and wages across the board continue to rise at historic rates year-over-year,” Spear said, while also noting the loss of 30,000 jobs from Yellow Corp.’s shuttering and Chapter 11 bankruptcy. “To support this misguided legislation is a vote for supply chain chaos.”