Are California drivers really ‘entitled’ to rest, meal breaks?


There’s no question about it.

We live in a world of entitlement.

I’m entitled to this, that and everything in between.

In the trucking industry, one of the biggest battles of entitlement rages on in California.

Are truckers who driver solely or even partially in the Golden State really entitled to a 30-minute lunch break and two 10-minute paid rest breaks?

Not so, says the American Trucking Associations, whose petition to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration asking the agency to preempt California meal and rest break rules was granted in a “midnight” (more on that later) announcement December 21.

The Teamsters Union responded quickly.

In essence, the union mimicked the now famous phrase ESPN’s Lee Corso shouts out when he disagrees with a fellow analyst’s opinion.

“Not so fast, my friend,” the union said in asking the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to review and hopefully reverse FMCSA’s decision.

“Petitioner International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Local 2785 is the collective bargaining representative of many truck drivers who work for motor carriers subject to this ruling who currently provide rest breaks and meal periods,” the union’s request for review said. “Petitioner Everardo Luna is one of those truck drivers who works for a motor carrier which presently provides meal periods and rest breaks. Truck drivers represented by Teamsters Local 2785 and other individual truck drivers like Mr. Luna will lose their right to rest breaks and meal periods as provided by California law if the determination is not reversed.”

In California, truck drivers paid by the mile are entitled to receive separate pay when the wheels stop rolling, which must be paid at an hourly rate of no less than minimum wage of $10 an hour. Furthermore, these separate wages must be paid in addition to the “by-the-mile” pay. Drivers that do not receive these separate wages are often owed a significant amount of money for unpaid downtime.

“Also, contrary to what many trucking companies tell their employees, California truck drivers are entitled to receive a separate paid 10-minute rest break for every four hours worked,” reads the website of the California law firm of Fernandez and Lauby, who asked truck drivers not compensated by the hour during a rest break to contact them. “For by-the-mile truck drivers, the payments for these paid rest breaks must be clearly documented on an employee’s pay stub as a separate hourly wage at no less than the applicable minimum wage of $10 an hour.”

Here’s what we don’t understand.

Let’s say a driver takes two rest breaks lasting 10 minutes each.

Tack another five minutes each time he or she stops finding a place to rest and then getting back on the road and then figure out how many miles he or she could have driven during that time period.

Certainly, the pay by the mile would be more than “break” pay.

We suppose California truckers feel they are entitled to a rest break.

But not many workers in the United States in any profession are entitled to rest breaks, period.

Based on our research on Wikipedia, maybe seven states require employees be given a rest break.

Some don’t even require a lunch break, although there aren’t many employers in this country who do not give employees an unpaid lunch break.

There is an irony in where the Teamsters filed suit.

It was the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that started this whole controversy when in mid-2014, it concluded that the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act of 1994 (FAAAA) does not preempt the application of California’s meal and rest break laws to motor carriers because these state laws are not sufficiently “related to” prices, routes, or services, thus requiring trucking companies that have operations in California to comply with California’s meal and rest break laws instead of the U.S. DOT regulations.

Oh, and about that “midnight” release announcing FMCSA granting the ATA petition.

It’s a habit on releases about major issues.

The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for the Obama administration’s HOS proposal was issued the afternoon of December 23, 2010, a Thursday.

The Final Rule on HOS was released on December 22, 2011, also a Thursday.








  1. I don’t get it, are you for or against the truckers getting rest breaks and lunch? It seems like you are against it, but then you decry the granting of the petition by FMCSA at “midnight” – which prevented CA from enforcing the CA rule.

    So this “midnight” thing…like “midnight” really matters in the 24/7 news cycle. C’mon, there are better conspiracy theories out there.


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