Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association
For Immediate Release
OOIDA responds to FMCSA preemption of California meal and rest break laws
(Grain Valley, Mo., January 3, 2019)– The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association is concerned about a recent decision by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to preempt meal and rest break laws in California.
The FMCSA granted a petition that, effective immediately, preempts California state laws that deal with meal and rest breaks for truck drivers. The American Trucking Associations (ATA) submitted the petition last year requesting federal preemption, citing numerous issues such as conflicts with the federal hours-of-service regulations. California’s laws require employers to provide employees with meal and rest breaks at certain intervals and motor carriers have been subjected to lawsuits for violations of the laws. A similar petition was rejected by FMCSA roughly 10 years ago, in which the agency said it exceeded their authority to make such a determination.
“FMCSA decided to unilaterally interpret longstanding federal statute, and in doing so they contradicted their own determination nearly 10 years ago,” said Todd Spencer, OOIDA President. “In reality, this issue should be addressed by Congress, not FMCSA. Unfortunately, Congress – led by former Congressman Jeff Denham (R-CA) – kept pursuing a legislative solution that was overly broad, contained a retroactive provision, and had zero chance of ever being signed into law.”
OOIDA strongly opposed what was rightfully termed the “Denham Amendment” but the association was open to a more limited and balanced approach.
“We think FMCSA’s decision may generate legal challenges and it remains to be seen how state lawmakers in California respond to a federal preemption that effectively guts state labor laws designed to protect employee truck drivers,” said Spencer.
OOIDA also contends FMCSA’s preemption determination and ATA’s efforts on Capitol Hill ignore a larger issue, which is the federal definition of “interstate commerce” based on the cargo being hauled. In short, virtually all cargo hauled in the U.S. is classified as interstate commerce even though the driver hauling said cargo might never cross state lines.
“The distinction between interstate and intrastate commerce is already murky and FMCSA’s preemption further complicates an already complex issue,” said Spencer. “We agree with many other industry stakeholders that certain federal statutes need to be reviewed, but any changes should be thoroughly vetted to make sure it’s done right. This simply hasn’t happened in Congress over the last several years.”
The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association is the largest national trade association representing the interests of small-business trucking professionals and professional truck drivers. The Association currently has more than 160,000 members nationwide. OOIDA was established in 1973 and is headquartered in the greater Kansas City, Mo. area.