According to the Office of New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Murphy has signed an executive order establishing a task force to look into employee misclassification in the state, much of it centering on truck drivers at the state’s ports.
“I am proud to take this step forward to end a practice that creates an unfair advantage over companies that play by the rules and hurts our working families,” said Murphy in a statement posted on the governor’s office website, while Assemblyman Thomas Giblin called it “long overdue.”
The Teamsters, represented at the signing of the order by Fred Potter, director of the organization’s port division, applauded the order. Potter said, “Tens of thousands of truck drivers hauling cargo on and off the docks at our nation’s seaports — including the Ports of New York/New Jersey — are illegally classified as independent contractors, robbing our public of much-needed revenue and depriving drivers of their employee rights, of their dignity and of fair pay for the important work they perform.”
The Teamsters and others say drivers are classified as independent contractors but treated like employees and meet the definition of employees.
A Teamsters statement sent via email said port haulers are forced to pay for fuel, truck lease payments, liability insurance and parking, all of which is deducted from their paychecks.
The U.S. Department of Labor on its website says: “The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) provides minimum wage and overtime pay protections to nearly all workers in the U.S. Some employers incorrectly treat workers who are employees under this federal law as independent contractors.
“We call that ‘misclassification.’ If you are misclassified as an independent contractor, your employer may try to deny you benefits and protections to which you are legally entitled.”
Dorothy Cox is former assistant editor – now retired – of The Trucker, and a 20-plus-year trucking journalism veteran. She holds a bachelor’s degree in fine arts and a master’s degree in divinity. Cox has been in journalism since 1972. She has won awards for her writing in both mainstream and trucking journalism.