MMTA Testifies at Independent Contractor Hearing- Nov. 30:


MMTA Executive Director, Anne Lynch and MMTA Vice Chairman Bill Crowley of Crowley Transportation were the first to testify on HB 3091, An Act Relative to the Sustainability of the Trucking Industry (Independent Contractor).

Describing shortages of truck drivers in Massachusetts, advocates for trucking companies called Wednesday for a change in state law they said would enable them to sharply increase hiring but that employment lawyers argued were an attempt to shortchange workers.

Officials with the Massachusetts Motor Transportation Association said state laws forbid trucking companies from treating workers as independent contractors. Instead, they must be treated as employees, which requires companies to offer benefits, pay unemployment insurance and cover workers’ compensation.

“If we go up to 30,000 feet and we look at a young man who goes out and he works hard and he gets his [commercial] license and he goes out and he gets a job and he saves his money and he tries to buy a truck, but then he has to become an employee … it’s prohibitive to him,” said Bill Crowley, owner of a small, Ludlow-based trucking company. “With the shortages of trucking drivers and transportation in this country right now, it’s crucial that that independent spirit not be crushed.”

The current dynamic, according to Crowley, the association’s vice chair, is prohibitive and favorable to out-of-state companies without similar restrictions, and ignores the history of the trucking industry, which he said began as a family-based industry that is embodied by today’s independent contractors.

“They’re the cowboys of the industry. They were the guys who got into the wagons and went west,” he said. “It’s how a lot of the trucking companies in this state got started.”

Crowley was speaking on behalf of legislation (H 3091) that would revise the way trucking and courier companies may classify workers. The bill, filed by Rep. Joseph Wagner (D-Chicopee), applies what supporters call a seven-point test that companies would have to pass in order to classify their car, van, truck and tractor drivers as independent contractors. Workers could be classified as independent contractors under the bill if they:

- Own or hold a lease for their vehicle;
- Are responsible for maintaining their vehicle;
- Are responsible for operating costs;
- Are responsible for supplying “personal services” needed to operate their equipment;
- Are paid based on work performed rather than on an hourly basis;
- Largely control the “means and manner” of performing their work; and
- Sign a contract specifying their intent to be an independent contractor.


FMCSA Issue Final Rule to Ban Cellphone Use:

truckSpecifically the rule allows for the continued use of hands free devices stating “The Agency (FMCSA) does not believe sufficient data exist to justify a ban of both hand-held and hands-free use of mobile telephones by drivers operating CMVs in interstate commerce.” Note also that the rule bans the use of push-to-talk technology which the agencies consider to be cell phone technology but does not ban the use of CB radios because “The use of CB and two-way radios and other electronic devices by CMV drivers for other functions is outside the scope of consideration in this rulemaking.”


FMCSA Extends Medical Card Requirements:


The January 2012 date was originally chosen because on that day drivers will also be required to submit a copy of their medical certification to their State Licensing Agency, which will incorporate the medical information into the Commercial Driver Licensing Information System (CDLIS) database used by licensing and enforcement officials. Unfortunately, many State licensing agencies will not be ready to transmit that information to DCLIS in time. Nevertheless, drivers will now need three copies of their medical certification: one on their person, one in their employer motor carrier’s driver qualification file,, and one deposited with the State Licensing Agency (when/if the State requires/requests it). Instrastate and exempted “intracity” zone drivers are not required to provide medical certification information unless State law requires them to do so.


Hours of Service Update:


Presently the rule is still being reviewed by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and there have been no recent developments to suggest a specific anticipated publication date. In other words despite a story this week stating the final rule will be released on December 22, ATA has not seen or heard anything from OMB that would confirm the report. Once ATA learns release of the rule is imminent (e.g., receives confirmation that OMB has approved and released the rule for publication), members of the ATA Federation will be notified accordingly. Upon publication of the rule ATA will highlight the key points and begin developing a more comprehensive summary of its many components. Please note that ATA may not be the first to announce changes to the existing rule as we feel it is far more important to ensure the accuracy of our summary than to get a response published quickly. Furthermore given that the rule will not take effect immediately, carriers are cautioned against taking any immediate actions as the rule will likely provide reasonable lead time for companies to come into compliance. Finally, ATA and other groups may file for an injunction if the rule is significantly objectionable however no definitive decision regarding litigation will be made before a thorough analysis of the rule is completed.

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