Washington state bill would bar owner-operators from port

Published February, 22 2013

Seattle portWashington House members are considering bills to requiring Port of Seattle to bar owner-operators and altering the state’s definition of independent contractors.

On Feb. 21, the House labor executive committee was to review HB 1719, which stipulates Seattle’s port could use only employee drivers for transporting containerized cargo other than agricultural products. It also mandates that these employee drivers be covered under state public employee collective bargaining laws.

During Feb. 19 testimony, the committee heard the legislation could be affected by the outcome of the American Trucking Associations’ lawsuit against the Port of Los Angeles. The Supreme Court will hear the ATA’s case against the port’s trucking concession requirements April 16.

The court will consider issues including whether banning a carrier’s port access is a partial suspension of its federally granted operating authority and thereby outside state authority.

An amendment was introduced to remove requiring loading and unloading be done only by employees, but expanding the driver employee rule to Port of Tacoma.

The Washington Trucking Association testified truckers make a choice to become owner-operators rather than company drivers. They can increase earnings by hauling longer distances than drayage and the significant driver shortage also means truckers do not have limited employment options.

The bill would bankrupt too many trucking companies serving the port, the WTA added.

Bill supporters say the legislation is necessary for owner-operators to upgrade equipment to cleaner standards and to provide a better wage and working conditions.

Read the rest of this story...

Sponsors