Sen. Boxer Opposes Resurrecting Trucker Rest-Break Reform

April 14, 2016

By David Cullen

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Sen. Barbara Boxer visiting a bridge project in Los Angeles. Photo:
Sen. Barbara Boxer visiting a bridge project in Los Angeles. Photo:

An effort appears under way to insert a pro-trucking reform twice shot down by this Congress in the Fiscal Year 2017 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) bill that the Senate Appropriations Committee is expected to mark up soon.

However, if Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), the influential Ranking Member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, has her way, the proposal will die yet a third death on Capitol Hill.

If the proposal is identical to the one that never made it into last year’s highway bill or this year’s aviation bill, it would aim to prevent states from enacting their own meal and rest break rules for CDL drivers. It would also prohibit states from requiring that those drivers be paid certain types of added compensation, such as detention pay.

In an April 14 letter to leaders on the Senate Appropriations Committee, Boxer expressed her strong opposition to “any efforts” to attach “a terrible anti-safety provision” to the THUD bill that would “dock the pay of truck drivers by attacking state laws that protect their pay during bathroom or lunch breaks, or when performing necessary activities like loading or unloading a truck."

Boxed added that “Truck drivers get paid for meal and bathroom breaks under the laws of 20 states.  But truck drivers in all 50 states would be affected by this dangerous provision because their states would be barred from passing laws that protect them from being docked not only for bathroom and meal breaks, but for ‘non-driving’ responsibilities, such as loading the truck. This provision overturns court decisions reaching all the way to the Supreme Court.”

Calling the provision “a poison pill,” Boxer warned that “including it in the THUD appropriations bill would end any chance of the bill moving swiftly in the Senate...”

Proponents of the reform measure have been pushing hard for Congress to more directly address state preemption of federal driver rules ever since a Supreme Court ruling last May upheld a California statute requiring a paid 10-minute rest break every four hours and a paid 30-minute meal period every five hours for truck drivers.

A Feb. 1 letter sent to the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure by an array of 80 stakeholder organizations argues that it is necessary “to clarify the preemption provision of the FAA Authorization Act of 1994 to restore the goals Congress intended when it sought national uniformity for motor carriers in the transportation of property.”

The signatories of that letter included the American Trucking Associations, the 50 ATA-affiliated state trucking associations, the National Private Truck Council, the Truckload Carriers Association and the Truck Renting and Leasing Association. Also signed on are the Association of American Railroads, the Intermodal Association of North America, the National Association of Manufacturers, the National Retail Federation and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

The letter contends that Congress needs to express the preemption provision more explicitly because “The Supreme Court has repeatedly explained that the language chosen by Congress reflects a very broad preemptive purpose, regardless of whether the effect on carrier prices, routes or services is direct or indirect, as long as the effect is more than tenuous or remote.

“However, some courts— particularly the Ninth Circuit— have consistently failed to faithfully implement Congress’ goals,” the letter states. “The upshot is serious inefficiencies that harm not just motor carriers, but the shippers and consumers who rely on trucks to move their goods, and, by extension, the national economy.” 

Related: Latest Aviation Bill Ditches Pro-Trucking Reform


  1. 1. Dennis [ April 15, 2016 @ 05:01AM ]

    Whatever law they pass they need to make it the same in all states. It is BS that we have to try and keep track of what the law is from state to state in any part of trucking regulations/laws.

  2. 2. Katie [ April 16, 2016 @ 03:17AM ]

    All drivers should get paid for their meal breaks and non driving work. All driver should also be paid for detention time at a supplier for pick up and delivery. It's B.S. to sit there for hours and not get paid because the place is slow and doesn't care one bit about getting it done and getting you out. That fee should be on the place that holds you up. I bet those jerks would move quicker.

  3. 3. Brian White [ April 22, 2016 @ 04:10AM ]

    Well this article was clear as mud. Safe to say, that whatever Boxer the Munchkin is for, I'm against. The trucking industry is controlled by the mega-carriers, who have the resources to lobby for what is good for THEM, and usually not good for the independent.

    If Boxer the Munchkin wants to support something, I suggest she get behind an effort to end IFTA, a program that is nothing more than legalized extortion of the owners of every commercial truck in the country.

    THAT is the real BS.

  4. 4. Geo [ April 22, 2016 @ 05:05AM ]

    The way it is explained in this article makes it look like Boxer is insisting that this Bill is AGAINST truck owners when it is FOR truck drivers.

    Why doesn't the article just sum up what it's all about in the first couple of paragraphs and then explain the details if we want to read further?

    If it's true that Boxer, who is our employee, is trying to kill what's basically a driver's rights law, then we as a whole should get in her way and make it hard for her to do anything.
    Hell, why should she be able to do her job if she won't let us do ours?
    Not getting paid for ALL work performed is illegal.

  5. 5. Sean [ April 22, 2016 @ 06:07PM ]

    In response to GEO, it is not a bill for truckers, but rather an attempt by the industry lobbyist to prevent the States from enacting protections for us. It would leave the task to a federal buerocracy... And we know how well that's been working for us... FMCSA. For more info go to OOIDA's foundation website.

  6. 6. Mike [ April 23, 2016 @ 05:39AM ]

    Trump 2016, time to make the politicians work for us for a change.

  7. 7. Mike [ April 23, 2016 @ 04:14PM ]

    I am fairly new to the industry, but it doesn't take long to see how government regulation and big company politics have affected my earning ability. Both groups incorporate laws or policies, with out regard to the drivers lively hood, for safety's sake (biggest crock of bs I have ever heard). These, far reaching, rules have no real proven merrit or data to prove their effectiveness. The only true data can be seen in our meager saleries or revenues. All these regulations and corporate policies need to be funded and guess who the unwilling participants are? Yes, you got that right; it is through our (drivers) sweat and sacrifice that these group heads make and take their money. As long as these two groups continue to make decisions about us and for us, without true representation, we will always be a struggling breed. As long as we act as individuals instead of a unified voice we will always monetarily support regulation and corporate salaries. It's sad to see an industry that relies so heavily on drivers take so much from us without giving back. There are no other institutions where the individual worker, outside of the military, first responders and other emergency personnel, sacrifice so much of their lives with little to no reward.


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