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Drivers unite as two year battle against truckers reaches Senate

May
15,
2018
1

Yesterday the Supreme Court of the United States rules that the Federal Government has no right to tell states they can’t engage in sports betting.
States have rights.

The ATA however has lobbied hard for the Denham and Fischer amendments in the FAA bill in order to PREEMPT STATES RIGHTS  labor protection laws so that carriers won’t have to pay truckers for detention time or a 10 minute break.

Drivers are at the end of a 2 year fight against the Denham Amendment and the powerful ATA lobby who has hijacked the intent of the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act of 1994 and tricked D.C. lawmakers into believing a series of false narrative of how states’ labor laws are interfering with freight rates.

The ATA goal is to preempt state labor laws in order to create Federal trucker wage laws overriding state rights.

Truckers are uniting against the Preemption of States Rights as the logic is overwhelming.
If states have the right to protect their authority allowing sports betting, then surely, they have the right to protect employees from wage abuse with their labor laws.

FAA Reauthorization bill

ATA tells lawmakers that they are the voice for trucking

ATA’s Myths and Facts about Denham Amendment Busted

During our onslaught of phone calls to Washington, to the House and the Senate, regarding the “trucker wage theft” Denham Amendment in the House FAA bill and the Fischer amendment in the Senate FAA bill, we were told by a high level staffer that many politicians believe that the ATA is the voice for truckers and that many drivers support the legislation they lobbied for in the FAA bill.

The ATA argument continues with their false narrative by offering their twisted justification for the need to create new Federal law ( via the Denham Amendment), preempting existing state labor laws, laws which have been put in place for years to protect employees from unethical employers who exploit employees.  This new Federal wage law would target truckers, dictating how drivers are to be paid, mainly, only the miles they drive and nothing more.

The ATA lobby has even managed to persuade some  drivers, through vague and false talking points, that the amendments are designed to help them, the truck driver community.

The Denham Amendment was included in the House version  the 2018 FAA Reauthorization bill, H.R.4. It now has to move to the Senate for vote before it can become law.

If included in the FINAL FAA Reauthorization bill, companies would be legally permitted to only pay drivers for the time they spend driving, despite the fact that drivers are required to spend a great deal of time performing non-driving duties in the fulfillment of their employment such as pre and post trip inspections, maintenance and loading and unloading ( Detention Time). This would put an end for hopes of modernizing trucker wages, including being paid for all time working.

The House managed to pass the amendment in their version of the bill, and although it is being pawned off as a bipartisan bill, the House roll call vote approving the Denham amendment in their FAA bill tells a much different story.
Here is a PDF for the roll call vote of House Representatives who either supported truckers by voting against the Denham amendment, or voted for the Denham Amendment
in support of the ATA and their request for new Federal wage laws against truckers.

Many truckers are surprised to see how each of the 2 parties voted.
How did your Congressperson vote?

Here is one example of one of the outright lies the ATA is stating to drivers and lawmakers, lawmakers who are going to be voting on a final FAA bill which could ( if passed) include the trucker wage theft amendments, Denham or Fischer.

False Claim: Jeff Denham R(CA) , author of the Denham Amendment, actually made this false claim on the House floor prior to voting on FAA Reauthorization bill April 26th 2018.

By offering a trucker a 10 minute paid rest break after 4 hours is a safety hazard. They falsely claim that drivers will have to immediately stop and pull over to rest. This is not true. The driver can waive the rest break, however the carrier will still have to pay him/her for it. Unfortunately the ATA has not told  drivers or lawmakers that drivers have the choice to take the break or not.
Here was Congressman DeFazio’s ( D-OR)rebuttal on the house floor which called Jeff Denham out as he made his stand for truckers.

"This is an incredibly broad preemption. It is not as stated. For 
instance, we just heard you have to pull over, no matter where you are. 
No. If you don't take your rest break, you have to be paid, but you don't have to
stop and pull over.
  Beyond that, this would preempt paid rest breaks, paid meal breaks, paid sick
leave, paid family leave, payment for time detained at a loading dock, payment for
anything other than a flat rate by the load.
  This is an extraordinary preemption that we have here. The drivers are already
exempt from the Fair Labor Standards Act. So they can't get overtime. If we wipe
out the State laws and there is no existing Federal law, truck drivers are really
getting it stuck to them here.
  In fact, this amendment would expand Federal preemption over trucking operations
to include, for the first time, wages and working conditions, something Congress
never contemplated in 1994.
  It is opposed by the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, the largest
trucking organization; the Teamsters; American Association for Justice; and
numerous safety groups. This is not as it is being presented. This is overly
broad, and it should be opposed."  Peter DeFazio

Now that the Denham Amendment has been included in the house version of the 2018FAA bill, what is the next step to prevent the preemption of states right and these “wage theft” amendments from becoming law?

The next step is for the Senate to vote on their version of the 2018  FAA bill. Note this however, their version includes a more watered down “trucker theft” amendment than the totally egregious Denham Amendment.  It’s called the Fischer Amendment.  ( named after Deb Fischer ( R-NE)
As OOIDA calls it, it is the lesser of two evils, as compared to the Denham amendment in the House version. On our opinion, an evil is an evil, no matter how much “less” evil it is.

Make no mistake, either amendment  version included in the FAA bill is an insult and assault on truckers and their dignity and wages.

The Fischer amendment, excludes truckers from protections of state labor laws, just as the Fair Labor Standard Act (FLSA) excludes truckers from the protection of Federal labor laws. The amendment asserts that drivers should not be protected by state labor laws which allow for 10 min paid rest breaks and non paid meal breaks.
Again, these breaks are optional to drivers.
The question still remains, why does the ATA want to push and support not offering paid rest breaks to drivers?
Why should truckers be considered any different than other employees in these states?

As it stands now- What is the next step for truckers?

Fischer and Denham may be pushed through Senate FAA voting soon. Trucking industry and government’s contempt and disregard for the value of the professional trucker continues. We understand that the Senate and Mitch McConnell want to move quickly on their version of the FAA Reauthorization bill, bypassing normal procedure. We’re at the last leg of a 2 year fight.

The ATA has pulled out all the stops on this one, This will be the last chance to end this. This is a battle Truckers can not afford to lose.

 

 We need a surge of truckers and fair wage supporters to call Washington NOW
We were told by those in Washington that it will take another surge of drivers calling the Senate stating they are against the “trucker wage theft” Denham and Fischer Amendments. It is imperative you tell them that the ATA does not speak for drivers. The only way to win the battle is this surge of calls to the Senate.
If you are reading this CALL 202-224-3121

What is the REAL agenda of the ATA?
States such as CA which have labor laws protecting drivers would eventually set precedent and drivers would then demand being paid for all time on duty not driving, which many driver are already demanding. ATA believes that if they can get Denham passed into law, that it puts that demand to rest.
ATA attitude is to continue to only pay piece work (cents per mile) wages so they strive for more miles to drive and more hours to keep driving.
“keep drivers driving more miles and keep them fighting for more hours to drive”

 

How to make sure these amendments do not become law in final 2018 FAA Reauthorization bill.

The best way to call up members of Congress is to be knowledgeable and informed on the issues at hand.
Below is a guide which may help you when calling your Senator.

Call your Senator about the anti-trucker wage amendments in the FAA ReAuthorization bill. Stop the Preemption of States Rights!
(This language is mainly known as the Denham Amendment, but is also brought up as “Meal and Rest Break”, F4A Preemption, and Fischer Amendment.)

What you can say when calling your Senator:

 

I’d like to speak with someone concerning S.1405, the Senate FAA Reauthorization bill, which is to be voted on within the next few days.
I want to make you’re aware of language, added as amendments, that I’m extremely opposed to in both the Senate and the House version of the FAA Reauthorization bills.
The Denham Amendment in the House bill and the Fischer amendment in the Senate bill.

 

First of all, I am against the Federal Government overriding States Rights and creating any new rules, laws or regulations which do so.
Recently the Supreme Court of the U.S. made the decision that the Federal government can NOT override states laws which would allow sports gambling.
If the Federal Government cannot override state laws regarding “sports betting”, what basis is there to override states laws which protect employees, specifically truckers, from wages abuse? Worse yet, excluding them from the protections of other employees such as the option to take a 10 min paid rest break every 4 hours or a non paid 30 meal break every 8 hours…. if they choose to!

 

Fischer Amendment – I am opposed to the “meal and rest break language” in the Fischer Amendment because it preempts states rights which protect piece work wage employees such as truckers. This amendment would allow for another new Federal law targeting truckers, excluding truckers from state labor protections, just as the FLSA exempts truckers from overtime.
This amendment would  exclude truckers from  wage and safety protections offered to other employees such as an optional 10 min paid rest break every 4 hours or a non paid 30 meal break every 8 hours. It would set a precedent saying that truckers are not deemed worthy of any labor law protections which are offered to all other citizens.

Denham Amendment – I am also VERY MUCH against the House Denham Amendment recently passed on April 26th 2018 in their version of the FAA Reauthorization bill, H.R. 4.
This trucker wage theft language in the Denham Amendment preempts state Laws by allowing the Federal Government to impose how truckers are to be paid ( piece work wages only-such as cents per mile) and relieves  employers ( motor carriers) of any further wage obligation, despite the fact that drivers are required to spend a great deal of time ( approximately 30 hours/week) performing non-driving duties in the fulfillment of their employment, such as pre and post trip inspections, maintenance and loading and unloading ( Detention Time). This would put an end for hopes of modernizing trucker wages, including trucker goals of being paid for all time working.

Mainly, the Denham amendment would allow for another new law which states that employers (the carriers) will not be legally obligated to pay truck drivers for their hours, regardless of how many hours they work and that truckers are exempt from any state laws which assert otherwise.
I am against either of these amendments being included in the FAA Reauthorization bill as they both show the  trucking industry and government contempt and disregard for the value of the professional trucker.

Examples of common ATA talking points to address

Here is an example of myths the ATA is stating to lawmakers, lawmakers who are going to be voting on a final FAA bill which could ( if passed) include trucker wage theft amendments, Denham or Fischer.

The “Safety Hazard” Argument –ATA is  claiming that by offering a trucker a 10 minute paid rest break after 4 hours, it would be a safety hazard. They falsely claim that drivers will have to immediately stop and pull over to rest causing a safety hazard on the roads. This is FALSE. The driver can waive the rest break, however the carrier will still have to pay him/her for it. Unfortunately the ATA has not told the drivers that they have the choice to take the break or not.

Unfortunately the ATA has not told the drivers that they have the choice to take the break or not. I wonder what it took the ATA to get these drivers to be a part of this video. Here’s the ATA video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DrUJG4ZZ5-g Notice that the ATA has disabled comments on the video.

The Patchwork Argument— Another example of ATA justification for Denham Amendment is that it would be too confusing to keep up with the 7 states labor laws regarding rest breaks. No it wouldn’t. The states are similar. California has the most protective towards employees, requiring carriers offer a paid rest break after 4 hours (optional to driver) and a meal break after 8 ( also optional to driver).

California also requires that drivers be paid for ALL time working while not driving. (includes detention time pay) If your company already pays you detention time, then it’s not a problem, but if they don’t, CA says they must be paid at least CA minimum wage

SOLUTION: If carriers would set their wage software meeting the criteria of California, it would satisfy all states laws. Instead, ATA’s argument is to Preempt State laws, replace with Federal law,which would assert that drivers only have to be paid for their miles driven and nothing more.
In doing so, they not only get rid of state labor laws protecting employees, but they also will create new Federal law which establishes- Motor carriers are not legally obligated to pay drivers anything more than their piece work wages ( miles driven)

Read an entire list of Myths vs Facts the ATA compiled along with the responses
“ATA’s Myths and Facts about Denham Amendment Busted”

Enough is enough. Drivers wages haven’t increased on a post-inflation basis in over 20 years, while industry profits have increased. The ATA’s “facts” themselves are incomplete, misleading, and designed to protect their constituency: the trucking companies and their ever increasing profit streams. The industry cannot accept that they have lost this issue in Court, so now they want to change the rules and nullify state laws upheld by the judicial system. That’s not a myth – its a raw fact!

If you are reading this PLEASE call NOW. 202-224-3121

Here is a link to every U.S. senator email and phone #
https://www.senate.gov/senators/contact/senators_cfm.cfm

Here is a link to every U.S.Representative
https://www.house.gov/representatives/

Call Your Reps NOW 202-224-3121

 

 

© 2018, Allen Smith. All rights reserved.

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By: Allen Smith

Allen Smith is a 37 year veteran who started at an early age in a household goods family moving business. He began driving straight trucks in 1977 and moved to the big rigs in 1982. His experience within the industry includes; owner operator, company driver, operations manager, and owner of a long distance HHG moving business, taking many of the long haul moves himself when needed. Allen Smith, a truck driver advocate who is driven by the desire to help others succeed within an industry where injustice, unrewarded sacrifice, and lack of respect and recognition exists. Allen and his wife Donna are hosts of Truth About Trucking ”Live” on Blog Talk Radio. Other websites include AskTheTrucker, TruckingSocialMedia, NorthAmericanTruckingALerts, TruthAboutTrucking, and many Social Media websites. In 2011 Allen and Donna hosted the first Truck Driver Social Media Convention, designed to create unity and solutions for the trucking industry. This is now being extended through the North American Trucking Alerts network as those within the industry join forces for the betterment of the industry. Allen strongly supports other industry advocates who are also stepping up to the plate to help those who share honesty, guidance and direction. He believes that all those involved in trucking need to be accountable for their part within the industry, including drivers, carriers, brokers, shippers, receivers, etc… The list of supporters and likeminded people grow daily, networking together and sharing thoughts and ideas for the betterment of trucking. He has coined the popular phrase "Raising the standards of the trucking industry"

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