California disputes federal preemption of truck driver rest-break rules

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California has challenged a federal agency’s right to preempt rest-break rules for truck drivers.

“It is well within a state’s rights to establish standards for the welfare of our workers,” state Attorney General Xavier Becerra said in a news release.

“Truck drivers, like every other person protected under California’s labor laws across hundreds of different industries, deserve adequate meal and rest breaks.”

Attorney General Xavier Becerra

“California takes seriously the health and welfare of truck drivers, who have a right to basic worker protections that include meal and rest breaks,” state Labor Secretary Julie A. Su added.

In December, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) granted petitions to preempt California’s meal and rest break rules, which differ from federal hours-of-service regulations.

The California requirements cause “a disruption in interstate commerce,” FMCSA said in a news release. “In addition, the confusing and conflicting requirements are overly burdensome for drivers and reduce productivity, increasing costs for consumers.”

Rob Davis, chief client officer for Diakon Logistics in Warrenton, Va., supported the federal action. His company, a Home Furnishings Association member, provides delivery services for retailers as well as warehousing and logistical support.

“Our delivery teams work hard, they get paid exceptionally well and they have control over when they take breaks,” Davis said. “But when legislators try to dictate to them that they have to take a break in the middle of their run or stop for a meal when they are in traffic doesn’t make sense for them; it creates another layer of oversight that is unnecessary and increases costs. It’s difficult enough to find qualified drivers. We need to make it easier for folks to get into the business, not more difficult.”

Labor Secretary Su filed a petition with the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco asking the court to reverse the federal preemption.

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