Supply chain woes could worsen thanks to California law, truckers threaten to block ports amid protests

America’s supply chain woes may soon worsen thanks to a disastrous California law, AB5, that threatens to destroy the state’s entire trucking industry.

Since Monday, California truckers have been picketing at the gates of the Port of Oakland, thus preventing drivers from hauling cargo to and from the port.

This, in turn, has “choked traffic” at the port and is now “threatening to worsen the nation’s pandemic-fueled supply chain jams,” according to Reuters.

“California’s ports handle about 40% of container goods that enter the United States,” Reuters notes.

As previously reported, AB5 is a draconian, one-size-fits-all rule that essentially outlawed all freelance work, including freelance writing, freelance hairstyling, freelance Uber/Lyft driving, and freelance trucking.

Freelance trucking involves truckers providing trucking services to a company without being employed by said company, meaning they’re not entitled to the benefits (vacation, healthcare, etc.) inherent in a regular job.

Despite the lack of benefits, many truckers enjoy freelance trucking because of the freedom and flexibility. The same is true of freelance writers, freelance hairstylists, and freelance drivers. It’s called being self-employed.

“Said Ahmedi, a 47-year-old trucker and protester from Elk Grove, Calif., said he likes the freedom of being self-employed. … Mr. Ahmedi said he earned almost $70,000 last year as an independent driver and was still able to take two, monthlong trips to visit family and in-laws in Afghanistan and Azerbaijan,” according to The Wall Street Journal.

“If I am a working driver I am stuck with the company,” he said to the paper.

But AB5 basically says that you can’t be self-employed and threatens to impose fines on any companies that work with self-employed writers, hairstylists, drivers, truckers, etc.

After AB5 was signed into law by California Gov. Gavin Newsom in 2019, truckers filed suit, and an injunction was instituted exempting truckers from the law.

But earlier last month, the Supreme Court refused to hear the case, causing a lower court’s decision ending the injunction to stand. In other words, companies must now stop conducting business with self-employed truck drivers or face the consequences.

As a result, thousands of happily self-employed California truckers are on the verge of losing their livelihoods, and this is why they’re protesting.

As of Thursday morning, the protest at the Port of Oakland was still ongoing and reportedly set to continue for weeks, if not months.

“Truckers say they are prepared to block the West Coast’s third-busiest container port until California Gov. Gavin Newsom listens to concerns about a new state law that will make it harder for them to operate, ratcheting up the potential for new disruptions to already-strained U.S. supply chains,” the Journal has confirmed.

“It may go on for a few more weeks or a few more months,” Gary Schergill, the general manager of a trucking company that works with hundreds of freelance truckers, told the paper.

Newsom has predictably refused to listen to them. The same cannot be said of Sen. Brian Dahle, a Republican seeking to defeat him in the upcoming California gubernatorial race. On Wednesday he recorded himself visiting with the protesting truckers.

“These guys just want to be free to drive their truck and run their business. But Gavin Newsom and the legislature doesn’t see fit to make sure you get your supplies out of this port to the store — that’s why prices are going up,” he said in the recording.

“That’s why you can’t afford to live in California. And Gavin Newsom just doesn’t care about these guys and their business. … When I become governor, we’ll exempt these guys so they can go back to work and feed their families.”

Watch:

Not surprisingly, the Democrats’ union buddies vociferously support AB5 and oppose the ongoing protests. They reportedly include the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union.

The Teamsters issued celebratory statements after the Supreme Court refused to hear the truckers’ case late last month.

“Finally, port truck drivers and so many others across California will have the opportunity to join together and earn a fair wage that allows them to support their families. These companies can no longer take advantage of workers and fill their own executive pockets with unfairly earned profits,” Sean M. O’Brien, Teamsters general president said.

“AB 5 was a significant victory in the Teamsters’ decades-long battle against misclassification in trucking. We thank the courts for letting stand legislation that guarantees truck drivers the employment protections they deserve. Now it’s time to enforce this law,” added Jason Rabinowitz, Teamers joint council 7 president.

Question: Does it look and sound like actual California truckers — versus these union bureaucrats — appreciate AB5 and its devastating effect on their lives!?

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Vivek Saxena

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