Federal Bill Mandates Overtime Pay for Truckers: Trucking Dive


Trucking Industry Divided on Bill to Remove Overtime Exemption

The trucking industry is currently in a state of flux due to a proposed bill that seeks to remove the federal overtime exemption for drivers. The measure has caused quite a stir in the industry, with some groups, such as the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA), supporting it, while others, such as the American Trucking Associations (ATA), opposing it. In this editorial, we will examine the key arguments for and against the bill, as well as shed light on some of the underlying factors driving this controversy.

The Overtime Exemption

Currently, federal law from 1938 denies truckers guaranteed overtime pay, making them miss out on time-and-a-half after 40 work hours each week. According to OOIDA, drivers frequently work over 70 hours per week. The proposed bill seeks to eliminate the FLSA motor carrier overtime exemption, which would grant drivers the right to receive overtime pay.

Arguments in Favor of the Bill

OOIDA has argued fervently for the bill, stating that it is crucial in guaranteeing fair wages for truck drivers. President Todd Spencer emphasized, “With this discount on a trucker’s time, ‘big trucking’ has led a race to the bottom for wages that treats truckers as expendable components rather than the professionals they are.” The proposed bill would ensure that long-haul truckers are paid fairly for their services. Furthermore, the US Department of Transportation recognizes that drivers face high barriers to entry, including costs, time, and training. Eliminating the overtime exemption would help reduce these barriers by improving driver pay.

Arguments Against the Bill

While some trucking organizations support the bill, others, such as the ATA, criticize it for reducing drivers’ paychecks and potentially resulting in a decrease in trucking jobs. CEO Chris Spear argued that the bill would not affect owner-operators, who are independent contractors not covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act. Additionally, according to the ATA, truckload drivers are currently earning approximately $70,000 on average, and wages across the board continue to rise at historic rates year-over-year. The ATA believes that supporting the proposed bill would be a vote for supply chain chaos.

Underlying Factors

The proposed bill represents a larger debate about the state of the trucking industry. Long-haul trucking jobs are demanding and often require drivers to spend long periods away from home. These challenging working conditions have contributed to high turnover rates in the industry, with drivers seeking more stable and less demanding employment opportunities. Additionally, some workers are opting for jobs in other industries, such as construction, warehousing, and local truck transport, where pay rates are increasing. The trucking industry needs to find ways to attract and retain drivers, and eliminating the overtime exemption is one way to achieve that goal.

The Future of the Bill

As of February 2022, the US Department of Transportation recommended the elimination of the FLSA overtime exemption for motor carriers. The bill has broad support among some trucking organizations, but others are fiercely opposed to it. While there remains much debate about the impact of the proposed measure, one thing is clear: the future of the trucking industry is uncertain. Rapid technological advancements and the ongoing shift towards a gig economy model are transforming the industry, and it needs to adapt to survive in a rapidly changing landscape.

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