Under the radar: new rules for independent truckers

Today, the government is out to screw the independent truckers in the country. First, let me say that I am not a trucker, nor an expert on that industry. This is more about allowing people to make their own decisions regarding their own destiny in life. This is the principles our country was founded on. A friend pointed me to this Wall Street Journal article yesterday (portions excerpted below).

After reading it, I actually got a little angry with the whole notion of people pretending to be vanguards for the public good, while clearly enhancing their own self interests.

The gist of it is this: The Teamsters and the SEIU have teamed up to commission a study; the study found that independent truckers who are 1099 employees should instead be classified as W-2 employees. This would force the entire class of owner operators to be hired by the people they drive for, rather than contracting their services as private owners of businesses. The result to our knights in shining armor would be twofold. First, the membership of the unions would immediately increase, as every W-2 trucker in the country would now be driving for a union shop. State and Federal Governments would win, as W-2 employees generally carry increased tax liability: both to the worker, and the business that hires them. If these guys are the winners, who are the losers? Guess.

I do have a lot of clients who are truck drivers. This is not because of any expertise in their under appreciated line of work. It is solely because my next door neighbor is a CPA who has found a niche in the accounting market for doing the tax work for truckers. When they express a need for what I do, he sends them to me. I have learned a lot from my conversations with them. One of the things that I have learned is that there is a lot of choice available to them as to how they wish to be paid. Those who wish to be owner operators are able to find work doing so. Those who wish to be W-2 employees are able to do so. There are even companies out there that offer both payment paths for their drivers. I have no idea why drivers choose one over the other. What I do know, is that the choice is theirs, at least currently.

Unions are stepping up a campaign to get the Obama administration to crack down on companies that treat workers as independent contractors instead of employees—a practice that effectively puts tens of thousands of workers out of reach of labor organizers.

Change to Win, a labor coalition that includes the Teamsters and the Service Employees International Union, will release Wednesday a report critical of trucking companies that serve big ports, charging they improperly classify many truck drivers as independent contractors. Whether workers are employees or contractors is a contentious issue across a range of industries including construction, home health care, and transportation.

“We plan to use this report as further proof to take to the administration to say ‘we know you want to help, you need to do it more quickly,”‘ said Fred Potter, director of the Teamsters port division and a vice president for the union. He and other union officials plan to push the government to file lawsuits and boost enforcement of relevant tax, employment and safety laws.

What is obvious from the above excerpt, is that the Unions are going to try to paint a picture that they are merely acting as self appointed nanny’s for the poor truckers, who for some unexplained reason are unable to watch out for their own interests.

Robert Digges, chief counsel for the American Trucking Associations, an industry trade group, said most port truck drivers are indeed independent contractors—but legally. This gives drivers flexibility, said Mr. Digges, though he’s concerned about being challenged because it could lead to costly litigation.

“All of this is just to simply turn these people into employees one way or another so that unions can make the effort to organize them,” he said.

What we see here from the Lawyer that the independent truckers have hired is that they are aware enough of their own interests to fight the unions and prevent this from happening. So where does President Obama, the Messianic representative of the little guy fall on this issue?

Mr. Obama’s federal budget for fiscal 2011 allotted money and outlined plans for the Internal Revenue Service and the Labor Department to work together to address the issue.

This includes more enforcement agents for the Labor Department and more proposed help for the IRS to determine how to properly clarify worker status. Still, some union officials say they want faster results.

Vice President Joe Biden has said that stopping worker misclassification remains a priority for President Barack Obama’s Middle Class Task Force.

In short, the American Dream is to have flexibility and control over our own destinies. It is not to have government bureaucrats take over the decision making process of our lives, and to then allow us whatever standard of living those bureaucrats deem fit. This amounts to nothing more than a strong arm tactic by Democrat approved thugs to gain control over the lives of people who choose to own and operate their very own business, and it is wrong.

We need to make it clear to our representatives that we want the government out of our business, and that we wish to remain the master’s of our own destinies and fortunes.

Originally posted as Unions to Obama: We Want Our Payback! at Mad Musings of a Conservative.

8 Comments
    1. O.k. here’s the thing. that study was commisioned by the two unions mentioned. Those drivers currently have the choice to work for themselves, or for a company. There is nothing preventing them now from choosing the latter. This is nothing more than the two unions involved in lobbying the government in an attempt to force them to work in union shops, thereby forcing business owners out of business and into their union membership. As far as misinformation is concerned, I’ll take the Wall Street Journal over just about any other source on the planet, (at least in terms of journalistic integrity.)

      The trucking industry is vastly different than any other in the country. It is wide open in terms of the choices available for its people that work there. I am not saying that one method is better than the other. In fact, those companies that do offer the 1099 and the W-2 route for their drivers usually have an exact 50/50 split in which path the drivers take. All I’m saying, is let the drivers make their own choices. If they don’t want to go the owner operator route, there are a lot of companies openly begging for W-2 drivers to work for them. Yes, that is with the current economic upheavel.

      1. Fundamental flaw in your arguement….
        why would any company hire the driver as an employee if it becomes perfectly legal to misclassify them as ICs? if this were a legal option, no smart company would hire an employee, only “independent contractors” because it is so much cheaper. . . all benefits would go away. . . there would be no such thing as benefits or overtime or employee rights. Goodbye 401K plans. . . goodbye pensions. . or job security.
        In fact, there would be no jobs.

        1. No such flaw, I’m in business. A company might wish to hire employees in an effort to keep them around. An independent contractor is free to take his or her talents elsewhere, including your competition and contract for them. It is not as easy for an employee to do the same. Turnover costs companies Billions of dollars every year. Companies don’t offer 401ks and benefits out of the goodness of their hearts, or even because they are forced to. It is a means to retain talent. Also, by offering 401ks, companies are able to salt some of their own earnings away for themselves. While we don’t have the time available here to discuss 5500 testing, or qualified vs. nonqualified savings plans, I will say that both company executives and independent contractors are capable of making the best decisions regarding their personal economics. One more thing, read the comment immediately following mine. It is one of those truckers mentioned in the article who does not wish to be reclasified, and forced to join the Teamsters against his will. He wishes to remain an independent business owner. Also, there are companies like ABF, MC Carriers, Hare Trucking, etc. which do offer both employment and contracting. This very fact just plain makes your argument specious.

  1. Great article!
    Not often we truckers see anything written in our favor, the teamsters have spent so much money trying to orgainze port truckers, who dont want to be organized, at the Port of Los Angeles and Port . Check out how much money the Port of LA has spent trying to get FAAAA repealed at the insistance of their fine mayor the union organizer. The true American dream is no longer.

  2. Tempest in a teacup. There are abuses right now, where drivers that have no ownership interest in a rig are thrown into 1099 jobs because the place they work for doesn’t want W-2 employees and all that this entails. Yes, there’s a place for independents, but driving a milk route in a company truck ain’t one of them. Surprisingly, a Democratic administration wants to stop labor abuses, including companies forcing independent status on company driver style jobs. Honestly, the only determination of 1099 vs W-2 should be “do you own your rig? Then you’re an independent, here’s your 1099”. Until that happens, it’s going to yoyo between extremes, coupled with increasingly arbitrary rules and regulations trying to justify the change to the other extreme, as each side tries to gain the moral high ground. So quit with your partisan bullshit and try to get things done right or go home.

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