Lawmakers intro bill guaranteeing truck driver overtime pay
Four bi-partisan lawmakers on Thursday introduced a bill that would eliminate current language in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) of 1938 that exempts truck drivers from receiving overtime compensation.
The Guaranteeing Overtime for Truckers Act, sponsored by Congressman Mark Takano (D-CA), Congressman Jeff Van Drew (R-NJ), Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) and Senator Alex Padilla (D-CA), has the support of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, the Truck Safety Coalition and the Institute for Safer Trucking.
“Truckers have been left out of overtime opportunities due to archaic standards,” said Takano. “The impact of truckers on the supply chain to get Americans the goods they rely on entitles these workers to competitive wages. In an industry plagued with high turnover, the most common-sense solution is to guarantee overtime pay to drivers.”
Removal of the exemption was included as a suggested priority action for the Department of Transportation in its Supply Chain Assessment of the Transportation Industrial Base, itself based largely on stakeholder input taken amid disruptions that exposed vulnerabilities in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, the document noted as an action item a policy recommendation for the DOT to “urge Congress to eliminate the Fair Labor Standards Act motor carrier exemption. Under the current exemption, employers are not required to pay overtime to many truck drivers.”
American Trucking Associations President and CEO Chris Spear noted in a statement Thursday night that driver wages across the board have risen at historic rates year-over-year, “except at Yellow,” he said, “where one party’s refusal to come to the table destroyed 30,000 jobs.”
“This proposal is nothing more than a thinly-veiled attempt to boost trial attorneys’ fees. It would reduce drivers’ paychecks and decimate trucking jobs by upending the pay models that for 85 years have provided family-sustaining wages while growing the U.S. supply chain,” Spear added. “The bill would not affect owner-operators, who, as independent contractors, are not covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act. To support this misguided legislation is a vote for supply chain chaos and the inflationary consequences for consumers. Rather than plaintiffs’ bar bailouts, lawmakers interested in actually supporting drivers could begin by fixing the nationwide truck parking shortage that costs drivers on average $5,500 in lost earnings annually.”
A Guaranteeing Overtime for Truckers Act was introduced in April 2022 by Michigan Rep. Andy Levin in the House of Representatives, and a companion bill in the Senate by Sen. Padilla the following September. Levin’s bill never made it out of the House Committee on Education and Labor and Padilla’s Senate bill got stuck in the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.