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April 15, 2014 2:00 PM, EDT

Independent Contractor Bill Reintroduced in N.J.

A bill opposed by the trucking industry to classify independent drayage operators and parcel delivery drivers as company employees has been reintroduced in the New Jersey Legislature.

An identical bill was approved by lawmakers last year but vetoed by Gov. Chris Christie (R).

Sponsors of the bill, reintroduced in March, are Democrats, Assemblyman John Wisniewski and Sen. Loretta Weinberg.

“Anyone that really cares about the people of New Jersey will not vote for that bill because it’s not designed for the people and the businesses in New Jersey,” said Gail Toth, executive director of the New Jersey Motor Truck Association. “It’s designed for union organization, and that’s not right.”

The battle over contractor legislation is being played out in several port areas around the country. Labor unions and other critics of independent contractors argue that drivers are employees but classified as contractors by companies trying to avoid paying for benefits or paying government payroll taxes.

Supporters of the independent contractor model in trucking have said that owner-operators are small-business people and that the trucking industry needs independent contractors in order to meet the flux in freight demand.

If passed, the New Jersey bill would wipe out the port drayage model there, Toth said.