Teamsters and others last week marched on the California Capitol urging the governor to sign AB 316, which he later vetoed. - Photo: Teamsters

Teamsters and others last week marched on the California Capitol urging the governor to sign AB 316, which he later vetoed.

Photo: Teamsters

California Gov. Gavin Newsome vetoed Assembly Bill 316, which would have banned driverless autonomous trucks over 10,000 pounds from California roads. He said the regulation was unnecessary and existing laws provide sufficient authority for oversight and regulatory framework.

Shortly before Newsom vetoed the bill, the Teamsters released a statement demanding he sign the bill into law. Just days earlier, a large group of Teamsters and others marched on the California Capitol to voice support for the bill that would have prevented further driverless trucking in the state.

“I’m here today because Gavin Newsom has signaled his intent to turn his back on the safety of 39 million Californians and veto AB 316, not only putting every California driver in danger, but opening big tech to eliminating hundreds of thousands of jobs,” said Mike Di Bene, a member of Teamsters Local 70 in Oakland. “AB 316 is the least we must do.”

“He is sending a message to California and every state in this country that technology should overrule middle-class jobs,” said Teamsters General President Sean M. O’Brien.

Autonomous Trucking Regulation

A statement from Newsom explained that in 2012, the California Legislature gave the Department of Motor Vehicles the authority to regulate the testing and deployment of autonomous vehicles on public roads in California.

As part of its oversight and regulatory responsibilities, the DMV consults with the California Highway Patrol, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and others with relevant expertise to determine the regulations necessary for the safe operation of autonomous vehicles on public roads, he said.

The department monitors the testing and operations of autonomous vehicles on California roads and has the authority to suspend or revoke permits to protect public safety.

Evolving Technology

The governor’s statement added that autonomous vehicle technology is evolving and the DMV remains committed to keeping the state's autonomous vehicle rules up to date to reflect continued development in California. According to the governor, the DMV held public workshops with interested stakeholders earlier this year to gather information to help in in the development of future rulemakings for both light-duty and heavy-duty autonomous vehicles.

“This rulemaking will be a transparent, public process where subject matter experts and other stakeholders will have the opportunities to shape the regulations related to the safe operations of autonomous vehicles in California. The draft regulations are expected to be released for public comment in the coming months,” said Newsom in the statement.

Employment Impact

Newsome said his administration is not just focused on safety, but also on jobs and how they may be impacted by technology. In 2019 his administration started a Future of Work Task Force, which includes labor leaders from the Teamsters, United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, and the Service Employees International Union. As a result of that group’s efforts, the state prepared a report on emerging technology and how it impacts on California's workforce.

“I am committed to incentivizing career pathways and training for the necessary workforce specifically associated with this technology,” said Newsom. “As such, I am directing the Labor and Workforce Development Agency to lead a stakeholder process next year to review and develop recommendations to mitigate the potential employment impact of testing and deployment of autonomous heavy-duty vehicles.”

Lorena Gonzalez, California Labor Federation executive secretary-treasurer, voiced support for the bill’s passage prior to Newsom’s veto.

“This is about the future of work, and I am tired of people talking about the future of work without talking about the future of workers,” said Gonzalez. “Big tech continues to say, ‘We’re going to make life more efficient.’ No. You’re going to make your life more profitable.”

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