If someone told me to dock my employees’ pay when they take a meal or bathroom break, I would say that is outrageous. Well that describes what a provision in the House FAA bill does to truck drivers. You may wonder why is a truck driver provision in an aviation bill? The answer is easy. We killed it in the highway bill and the Republican House will not give up on their mean-spirited provision.
I am here today to shine a spotlight on this provision, which will block states that wish to protect their truck drivers’ pay when they take these breaks or even when they load or unload their trucks.
Twenty states and two territories already have these laws which will be overturned by this provision. It is important to note that these laws have been upheld by the Supreme Court. But this goes far beyond the 20 states and two territories and applies to any state that would move to protect their truck drivers. And it’s about more than pay. A truck driver who fears their pay will be docked – which will be most of them – will suffer from driver fatigue. We know that driver fatigue and distracted driving are significant causes of truck-involved accidents.
This terrible anti-safety, anti-worker provision is a poison pill and has no place in the FAA bill. It has no place in any bill, which is why we killed it in the highway bill.
That is why today I sent a letter to Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John Thune and Ranking Member Bill Nelson urging them to block this provision from being included in the Senate’s FAA bill. I have also sent a letter to my Senate colleagues asking them to consider writing their own letters of opposition.
I am joined in opposition to this provision by numerous groups who have written letters to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee strongly opposing this provision, including:
• the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association;
• Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety;
• Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways;
• Parents Against Tired Truckers;
• the Trauma Foundation;
• the Truck Safety Coalition;
• Road Safe America;
• Public Citizen;
• the International Brotherhood of Teamsters;
• the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO;
• the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers; and
• the American Association for Justice.
I would like to take a minute to read to you a few lines from these letters.
The Safety Advocates and other organizations focused on highway safety noted:
“Driver fatigue is a major and deadly problem within the trucking industry and this provision is a step backwards. The provision preempts state laws that ensure drivers are afforded needed rest and meal breaks.”
To emphasize the point that not compensating truck drivers for time spent on “non-driving” responsibilities is dangerous, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association wrote:
“This unpaid time creates undue pressure incentivizing drivers to drive farther and faster in order to remain economically viable.”
Similarly, the Teamsters and other labor organizations wrote in their letter:
“[T]his provision would rob drivers of compensation for work performed other than actual driving, would overturn decades of lawsuits and judgements awarded to drivers because employers knowingly broke the law, and would greatly undermine highway safety by increasing fatigued driving and putting more drivers and other motorists at risk.”
We simply cannot afford to have this provision move forward. I strongly urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to block this dangerous provision. I will use all the tools at my disposal to ensure that it is not included in the FAA bill or any other legislation.