CTA, OOIDA file appeal against latest AB 5 ruling

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Trucking news and briefs for Wednesday, April 17, 2024:

Trucking groups appeal latest AB 5 ruling

Following a California district court judge last month ruling against the trucking industry in an attempt to block the AB 5 independent contractor classification law’s applicability to trucking, the industry is once again fighting back.

On April 12, the California Trucking Association and Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association filed an appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The Ninth Circuit was the court that in April 2021 reversed an injunction that had been in place exempting the trucking industry from the law.

AB 5, of course, is the law that codified the ABC test for worker classification determinations -- the “B” condition being problematic for trucking in that it requires that the worker’s tasks be “outside the usual course of business of the company” they are contracting with to be a valid independent contractor.

In the March ruling siding with California, District Judge Roger Benitez essentially told the trucking groups to take their arguments up with California lawmakers rather than the court system.

“Remedying complexities and perceived deficiencies in AB 5 are the kind of work better left to the soap box and the ballot box than to the jury box,” Benitez said in his March ruling. “If sufficient political or economic pressure can be brought to bear by Plaintiffs and their supporters, the more onerous provisions of the statute can be amended. The courts, on the other hand, are not the proper bodies for imposing legislative amendments.”

As for the appeal to the Ninth Circuit, dates for additional filings and arguments have not yet been released.

[Related: Judge rules against trucking in latest attempt to block AB 5]

Bendix closing Nevada distribution center

Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems announced April 16 it plans to close its distribution center in Sparks, Nevada, and consolidate the operation and all parts inventory into the Bendix Distribution Center (BDC) on the company’s Huntington, Indiana, campus. Bendix expects to complete the consolidation this year by the close of the second quarter.

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The BDC is the company’s primary North American distribution point. The announcement marks another step in Bendix’s long-term effort to enhance the company’s customer-focused operational efficiency.

“Delivering value to our customers is at the core of all we do,” said Piotr Sroka, Bendix president, chief operating officer, and chief executive officer. “Consolidating our U.S.-based distribution operations into the state-of-the art, multishift-enabled Bendix Distribution Center at our Huntington location ensures improved responsiveness and flexibility for our customers – including increased accessibility. Thanks to a full slate of continuous improvement actions underway – and with new expanded hours for our shipping operation out of Huntington – we expect our service and responsiveness to improve even more as a result of this action.”

Bendix said it currently ships the majority of customer orders for parts from Huntington. The company expects no changes to availability going forward and little to no customer impact as the consolidation is completed.

Bendix launched the Sparks distribution center operation in 1992. Its closure and consolidation into Huntington will not affect the ongoing operation of Bendix distribution centers in Mexico City, or Montreal, Canada. Those facilities will continue operations unchanged, serving as strategic locations across the company’s North American marketplace.

“The decision to undertake the shift and shutter the Sparks facility was reached only with careful evaluation and consideration, including for those contractors – no full-time Bendix employees work at the site – who will be impacted by the closure,” Sroka said.

FMCSA hosting two-day Safety Research Forum

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration next week will host its annual Safety Research Forum as a virtual event over two days, Wednesday, April 24 and Thursday, April 25, from 1-4 p.m. Eastern each day. 

This year’s event will feature presentations from the Analysis Division and new Crash Data Analytics Division (April 24) and Applied Research Division and Advanced Technology Division (April 25). 

The event will focus primarily on the work being performed by FMCSA’s Office of Research, with staff members presenting short summaries of some of their most interesting and important projects. 

Registration for the event is required, and attendees are encouraged to send any questions they may have in advance to [email protected]. An agenda for the meeting can be viewed here.

Attorneys launch digital version of trucking regs

Owner-operators and motor carriers can now digitally access, annotate and better navigate the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs), thanks to a new app released by transportation attorneys Brandon Wiseman and Jerad Childress, with the Trucksafe consulting firm.

eRegs app interfaceThe new eRegs app gives fleets and operators up-to-date access to the FMCSRs, along with educational content from Trucksafe Consulting.Their eRegs app aims “to revolutionize the way trucking companies and their drivers interact with and internalize the FMCSRs,” they said. 

“For too long, carriers and drivers have purchased and relied on physical copies of the regulations, which do little to help them and their drivers actually understand the complexities of the regulatory text,” Wiseman said. “With eRegs, carriers have an always up-to-date version of the regulations at their fingertips on any of their devices, which they can annotate with highlights, bookmarks, and notes.”

In addition, Wiseman said the app also gives access to educational content developed by Trucksafe “to help them better understand regulatory nuances.” 

eRegs offers fleets a fully digital alternative to the process of distributing physical regulation books to drivers, Wiseman and Childress noted.

“Many carriers are paying thousands of dollars each year to source and distribute physical regulatory pocketbooks to their drivers,” said Childress. “It’s no secret those books are quickly outdated and often end up in the trash. With eRegs, fleets can easily add drivers to their accounts for a nominal one-time fee. From there, drivers can access the always up-to-date regulatory text right from their mobile devices, and carriers receive digital receipts to prove they’ve distributed the regulations across their fleet.”

eRegs integrates directly with the electronic Code of Federal Regulations, ensuring access to the latest version of the regulatory text. User annotations and Trucksafe educational content is synced across devices and accessible via the web and the eRegs mobile app, now available in the App Store and Google Play Store.

Fleets and operators can try eRegs for free for 14 days and subscribe online at eregs.app. Subscriptions are then available for $4 a month or $40 a year. Additional driver invites can be purchased for each subscription for a one-time $4 per driver fee.