The International Brotherhood of Teamsters has asked a federal appeals court to reverse a ruling exempting truckers from California’s mandatory meal and rest break rule.
The Teamsters asked the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco on Dec. 27 to throw out the ruling or provide “relief as the Court deems proper.” The 9th Circuit said in 2014 the California-required break applied to truckers.
The Teamsters called the Dec. 21, 2018, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration ruling a “corporate giveaway.”
State vs. federal law
At issue is whether California can require heavy-duty truck drivers to follow a rule requiring a 30-minute meal break after five hours of work. Federal hours-of-service rules require a break after eight hours of driving.
The American Trucking Associations asked the FMCSA to exempt truckers from the state rule for safety reasons.
The FMCSA said California’s rule had no safety benefit and was a burden on interstate commerce.
Trucking companies have paid hundreds of millions of dollars to settle driver claims that they were not paid for meal and rest breaks while driving in California.
‘Victory for highway safety’
The FMCSA ruling was “a victory for highway safety, not trial lawyers,” said Chris Spear, ATA’s chief executive.
In its September 2018 petition, the ATA cited a lack of safe parking places for truckers forced to comply with California’s rule. In 2015, the FMCSA exempted the Specialized Carrier & Rigging Association from the federal rest break rule using a similar rationale.
“FMCSA’s suggestion that rest break rules negatively impact highway safety is ludicrous,” the Teamsters said in a statement.
The California Department of Industrial Relations’ Labor Commissioner’s Office is reviewing its options, a spokeswoman said in an email to Trucks.com.
Thousands of trucking companies in California remain subject to the state rule, said Joe Rajkovacz, director of governmental affairs at the Western States Trucking Association.