California court reverses AB 5 for Uber drivers while trucking awaits ruling

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Trucking news and briefs for Friday, March 17, 2023:

California court reverses AB 5 for Uber drivers, but not truck drivers

A California state appeals court on Monday upheld a ballot measure allowing apps like Uber and Lyft to treat their drivers as independent contractors, rather than employees. 

The court found the ballot measure, known as Proposition 22, actually was constitutional, but did strike down a part of the proposition that limited gig workers' ability to organize and join unions. Uber and Lyft celebrated the victory in court, and their stock prices shot up a few points each on the news. 

California voters backed Prop 22 in November 2020 when it won nearly 60% of votes in California. Prop 22 exempted app-based drivers from AB 5, meaning they could continue to work as independent contractors. 

Meanwhile, the California Trucking Association still seeks an injunction against AB 5 in the lower courts, and the appeals court's recent ruling has no bearing or benefit for the trucking industry. California's deadline to respond to the challenge has been extended to March 29. 

[Related: Trucking sounds off on DOL nominee over AB 5 role]

Rapid Response rolls out employee ownership program

Rapid Response, among the the Midwest’s largest transportation companies, has transitioned its ownership structure to an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP). The formation of an ESOP makes St. Louis-metro-based Rapid Response 100% employee owned, and the company’s stock is now wholly held by the ESOP for the exclusive benefit of its employees. 

“Our business is built on long-term relationships and excellent service. I believe the ESOP transaction will only help strengthen our commitment to our customers," said Rapid Response founder and Chief Executive Officer Rick Palo. 

Since its founding in 1982 with a single straight truck and one furniture delivery customer, Rapid Response has grown into a nearly 70-truck asset-based transportation provider of full truckload, less than truckloads (LTL), local delivery, home delivery, and home appliance and furniture services. The company also has a fully staffed logistics division that has access to thousands of carriers.

TuSimple says it's crossed 10 million autonomous miles

Autonomous driving technology company TuSimple said Thursday its trucks have driven more than 10 million cumulative miles through testing, research and freight delivery.

TuSimple became the first company to demonstrate an autonomous semi truck's capabilities on surface streets and highways with its 1,000-meter perception breakthrough in 2018 and was the first company to successfully demonstrate the ability to fully remove the driver from its trucks and navigate 80 miles, traveling on surface streets and highways, naturally interacting with other motorists in December 2021.

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Shell Rotella auctioning autographed baseball bat for St. Christopher Fund

Shell Rotella has teamed up with the St. Christopher Truckers Development and Relief Fund (SCF) through an online auction for a customized, Louisville Slugger baseball bat, signed by the legendary Hall of Fame shortstop, Cal Ripken Jr.

The auction will run from 12 p.m. Eastern on March 21 through 11:59 a.m. Eastern on April 5, with all proceeds going to St. Christopher Fund. The bat will also be displayed at the Mid-America Truck Show in Louisville, Kentucky, from March 30 to April 1 in the Shell Rotella booth (#34180).

The St. Christopher Fund’s mission is to help aid over-the-road and regional truck drivers and their families when an illness or injury inhibits them from working.

“We are proud to be building a program of engaging activities throughout 2023 with the St. Christopher Fund to support hard-working truck drivers across the U.S.,” said Annie Peter, Shell Rotella Brand Manager. “It is important for us to support this tremendous trucking community through a charity that understands the trucking industry and can give back during times of need in an impactful way.”

Supporters are encouraged to head to the auction’s landing page for a chance to swing big for a great cause. The winner of the auction will be announced on the Shell Rotella social media channels on April 6 and will receive the autographed bat with a premium display case and wall mount. 

“Collaborating with an organization with deep roots in the trucking community like Shell Rotella presents natural synergies of unwavering support and action for truck drivers and their families,” said Shannon Currier, the SCF Director of Philanthropy.

Trucker Path integrates with BrokerWare TMS

Trucker Path on Thursday announced that users of BrokerWare Transportation Management Software from 3PL Systems can post loads directly on the Trucker Path TruckLoads digital load board, giving carriers using Trucker Path access to more available loads.

The Trucker Path integration with 3PL Systems allows companies using BrokerWare TMS to post available loads on TruckLoads with a single click. Drivers using the Trucker Path load board can quickly and easily view and book loads digitally or communicate with the broker to negotiate rates or ask questions.

“The ability to quickly interact on the TruckLoads digital freight exchange will streamline freight matching and help generate additional revenue for both drivers and brokers,” said Chris Oliver, CMO at Trucker Path.