A bill introduced in the California State Senate would put more pressure on trucking companies who aren’t paying fair wages by holding the retailers who hire them to move their goods jointly responsible in future legal claims against them.
Currently California is struggling with port trucking companies who are accused of misclassifying their drivers as independent contractors, illegally withholding wages, and locking them into lease-purchase programs which cause drivers to get a paycheck every month which tells them that they actually owe money.
According to USA Today, over 1,100 California port truck drivers have filed labor complaints against such companies since 2008. Those cases have led to almost $40 million in judgements against port companies since 2012. But USA Today reports that port companies have successfully used shell companies, bankruptcy protections, and legal loopholes to avoid paying what they owe.
State Senator Ricardo Lara introduced SB-1402 on Wednesday. The “Dignity in the Driver’s Seat” bill targets companies who have a history of unpaid judgements. Judgements can be from wage theft cases, predatory leasing cases, misclassification cases, and more. The bill would create a list of such companies and make any retailer who enters into a contract with them jointly liable for any future state employment law violations.
“Port truckers are driving the global economy and delivering for the biggest brands but they can barely afford to buy clothes for their families,” Lara said. “These used to be good jobs, and they can be good jobs again if retailers join us in improving labor conditions here in California and putting dignity back in the driver’s seat.”