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Preserving the Rights of Independent Contractors

Posted By John Hausladen, Tuesday, October 1, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, October 16, 2013
You Should Care about the Independent Contractor Issue – Okay, I am careful to not use the word "should” with our members. Truckers bristle at being told what to do. But I really believe when it comes to the issue of independent contractors (ICs) in the trucking industry, you should pay attention to it … even if you don’t use ICs right now.

Legal Protection to Use ICs at Risk in 2014 – After a contentious two-year battle, the Teamsters and MTA agreed to new statutory language defining an IC in the trucking industry in 2009. Following the 2012 elections, when the Minnesota House, Senate and Governorship were consolidated under one party control, the Teamsters told us they wanted to "open up the law.” They contend that there are still loopholes and misclassification (ICs that should be employees) going on. They informed us that they will be dropping in a bill to do just that during the 2014 Session of the Minnesota Legislature. If the Teamsters follow the game plan used in other states, their bill would not prohibit use of ICs, but would add barriers that would make it nearly impossible to be an IC.

All Carriers at Risk if Definitions Change – If you use ICs or operate as an IC, the risk is real obvious. Your business model and a way of life could be taken away from you. If you don’t use ICs today, you may want or need to tomorrow. The use of ICs has always ebbed and flowed with the economy. Many trucking firms in existence today started out as ICs with one truck. As an industry we simply cannot afford to have this critical option and tool taken away from us.

It’s Working – We totally disagree with their claims of misclassification. Just to make sure, we have reached out to the state agencies charged with enforcing the statute and asked the question. The good news is that neither the Department of Employment and Economic Development nor the Department of Labor and Industry have any data supporting the Teamster’s claims.

Don’t Tune Out Our Campaign – For those of you using employee drivers, rest assured that we will work equally hard on issues impacting your workforce. But this is a critical time for you also to join us in educating your legislators. We will be issuing materials and action requests designed to debunk the many myths surrounding ICs. Please help us in telling that story, and keeping your options open.

Engage Your ICs in the Effort – If you have not already done so, please help us engage your ICs in this effort. We are using the Connolly Kuhl Group (CKG) to build a network to educate and activate ICs when the time is right. CKG are "our guys” so please respond to their requests.

Natural Gas and Leader Development in October – On a different note, October is a big month for some other MTA initiatives. We will be holding the Minnesota Summit on Natural Gas in Trucking on October 17. National leaders in the natural gas industry are coming together for a jam-packed day. We end the month with our annual Leadership Development Conference on October 30-31.

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