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Judge stalls California labor law as it relates to truckers

The judge said the California Trucking Association is likely to eventually prevail on its argument that the law violates federal law.
Credit: AP
FILE - In this Friday, Nov. 13, 2009 file photo a caravan of trucks from the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, Calif., drive around Los Angeles City Hall during a protest against container fees being assessed against independent truckers. The California Trucking Association has filed what appears to be the first lawsuit challenging a sweeping new labor law that seeks to give wage and benefit protections to workers in the so-called gig economy, including rideshare drivers at companies such as Uber and Lyft. The federal lawsuit filed Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2019, contends that the legislation violates federal law and would deprive more than 70,000 independent truckers' of their ability to work. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File)

CALIFORNIA, USA — A federal judge temporarily blocked a new California labor law from impacting more than 70,000 independent truckers. 

The law makes it harder for companies to classify workers as independent contractors instead of employees, who are entitled to minimum wage and benefits such as workers compensation. 

The judge granted a temporary restraining order Tuesday sought by the California Trucking Association, saying the association is likely to eventually prevail on its argument that the law violates federal law.

The California Trucking Association filed a lawsuit in November challenging the new labor law which is set to take effect Jan. 1. 

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The legislation violates federal law and would deprive more than 70,000 independent truckers of their ability to work, the association said. Many would have to abandon $150,000 investments in clean trucks and the right to set their own schedules in order for companies to comply with a law it says illegally infringes on interstate commerce. 

"Independent truckers are typically experienced drivers who have previously worked as employees and have, by choice, struck out on their own. We should not deprive them of that choice," association CEO Shawn Yadon said in a statement.

The lawsuit was filed in federal court in San Diego the same day the University of California, Berkeley, Labor Center estimated that the law will apply to nearly two-thirds of independent contractors, including truck and taxi drivers, janitors and maids, retail workers, grounds maintenance workers and childcare workers.

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Democratic Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez of San Diego who authored AB 5 said the state will continue to fight the association.

"We expect big corporate interests — especially those who have misclassified their workers for years — to take this fight back to the place they know they can delay justice for workers: the courts," Gonzalez said in a statement after the trucking association filed its lawsuit.