Nine months ago we wrote about how the case of CTA v. Becerra had an injunction on it, allowing owner-operators to continue leasing under another trucking company’s authority. Now, over a year since the injunction was first placed, it appears the end may be in sight. The ninth circuit has ruled that AB-5 is not in conflict with the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act (F4A).
The appellate court panel said that the two laws can exist in harmony rather than contradicting each other. This is “because AB5 is a generally applicable labor law that affects a motor carrier’s relationship with its workforce and does not bind, compel, or otherwise freeze into place the prices, routes, or services of motor carriers, it is not preempted by the FAAAA,” wrote Judge Sandra S. Ikuta.
Judge Mark Bennett wrote a dissension, saying that AB-5 very much does impact the services motor carriers can provide to their customers, including those across state lines, and that as such owner-operators should not be beholden to the California law.
In our own opinion, we believe that because the words of the F4A prevent state laws with “the force and effect of law relating to…intrastate services of any freight forwarder or broker”, so we are personally inclined to agree with Judge Mark Bennet, though we are not judges.
The injunction is not gone just yet: the California Trucking Association hopes they will be able to take the case to the Supreme Court. Because the effects of the law reach outside of California and because federal circuits have had differing opinions on the case, the chances the United States Supreme Court may hear the case is better than that of the average case that winds up on their doorstep. We will keep you updated as the story unfolds.
Whatever the case, AB-5 has essentially overstayed its welcome, as Golden State voters themselves have voted to carve out exemptions for the very businesses the law was intended to curtail.
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