N.J. Gov. Christie Vetoes Bill to Classify Port Truckers as Employees

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) vetoed a bill Sept. 9 that would have classified most port drayage and parcel truck drivers in the state as employees, and put the burden on carriers to prove that drivers are independent owner-operators, he said.

Both houses of the state’s Legislature passed the bill in May. It would have entitled most drayage and parcel drivers to various rights afforded to employees, such as unemployment insurance, workers compensation, tax withholding and union organization. It also would have criminally penalized some carriers who misclassify.

“The independent contractor model is a common approach by which trucking businesses engage drivers in this state,” Christie wrote in a letter to the Legislature. He recognized that employee misclassification is a problem but called the bill’s approach “overreaching and has the potential to cause severe and significant economic harms to New Jersey’s trucking industry.”

The Teamsters union supported the bill, saying it would improve working conditions for thousands of truck drivers who carriers closely control and treat largely as employees, but who do not have the rights of employees.

The New Jersey Motor Truck Association opposed the bill, saying it would put thousands of owner-operators out of business and drastically increase costs for the trucking industry. That group had urged Christie to veto the measure.

“We’re thrilled,” Gail Toth, the association’s executive director, told Transport Topics. “We’re sighing a big sigh of relief, because, had this thing not been stopped . . . it would have destroyed the port drayage and parcel delivery owner-operator models.”


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