MEAL BREAKS IN CALIFORNIA. Well, as I have always said, what starts in California usually spreads across the United States like a virus. But in this case, I hope so! As you may have heard the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s 2018 determination that interstate motor carriers are exempt from California’s stringent meal and rest break rules. FMCSA reached this conclusion after California required more breaks, more often, and with less flexibility.
The California law had required an employer to provide a “duty-free” 30-minute meal break for employees who work more than five hours a day, as well as a second duty-free 30-minute meal break for those who work more than 10 hours a day, along with additional 10-minute rest periods every four hours. By contrast, Federal law states that except for certain short haul drivers, a property-carrying commercial motor vehicle driver working more than eight hours must take at least one 30-minute break during the first eight hours, but the driver has flexibility as to when the break occurs. By upholding DOT’s authority to be the sole regulatory of interstate trucking, the 9th Circuit is preventing states and trial lawyers from creating a costly and inefficient patchwork of competing rules.
TRAINING FOR OWNER OPERATORS. The U.S. Department for Labor has issued an opinion letter ruling that motor carriers can supply independent contractors safety equipment such as dash-cams, speed limiters, and driver monitoring systems, and require that they take safety training without jeopardizing their independent contractor status. This opinion letter is a victory for highway safety and for the thousands of truck drivers who choose to be Independent Contractors – and the motor carriers that use them. This will help motor carriers to better train or renew training so that they can possibly lower their insurance costs. This absolutely translates to a strong incentive for motor carriers to pursue safety measures and improve their SMS scores with all their drivers, employees and independent contractors. The new rule is due to be effective March 8, 2021.
NEW NTA SERVICES. With all the above in mind, I want to introduce some new services starting in March. First, under our old loan program, we processed over $50 million in loans over the years, but that was mainly for transportation companies. Our NEW loan program, due to the ongoing pandemic, is now open to all businesses. NTA wants to help every business in America get back on their feet again. After all, their supplies come by truck in one form or another.
Second, if any NTA member enrolls five or more of their drivers into our NEW CDL Legal Program, which now has a 95% win ratio on fighting tickets through the courts and FMCSA DataQs, they will receive the Carrier Guard Program for FREE. Motor carriers will receive a notice of every ticket within 24 hours. With just a brief glance, they can monitor, in real-time, their DOT violations, driver citations, and their success rate in court. Motor carriers will be able to receive daily violations notifications with our proprietary SMS violation system that delivers straight to your email.
Third, we have partnered with Certified Safe Driver. This California based company provides not only webinar training but actual driver education services, such as licensing for Class A, B and C drivers. The principals have over 135 years of combined experience in safety and transportation, having come from some of the biggest transportation companies in the US. They have professional trainers available across the United States that also do OSHA Authorized Training and much more. They have developed two mobile apps – a premier electronic employee and driver evaluation and coaching system, as well as an electronic incident report system. These are well worth looking into if you want to lower your insurance costs.
Last, but not least, we have recently partnered with a large Wisconsin Health Service provider who promises to bring to the table some new Health, Vision and Dental plans. They currently handle the National Retired Basketball Player Association and the National Association of Realtors, just to name two.
WHAT’S SO GREAT ABOUT CALIFORNIA? The economy of the State of California is the largest in the United States, with a $3.2 trillion gross state product (GSP) as of 2019. If California were a sovereign nation, it would be the world’s fifth largest economy, ahead of India and behind Germany. California gained its prosperity through agriculture, the gold rush, and beautiful seaside cities that attract celebrities and the elite. Unfortunately, California is now the poverty capital of the United States. With the highest number of welfare recipients in the nation, California has become a money pit.
There are 3.9 million small businesses in California, making up 99.8% of the state’s businesses. Those companies employ nearly 50% of the state’s workforce. As of the 1st of this year, there were 23,041 Independent Drivers in California. More than two-thirds of the nation’s fruits and nuts and a third of vegetables grown in the United States come from California. There are more than 25 million acres of farms in the Golden State, led by dairy products, grapes, almonds, strawberries, cows, and lettuce.
The seaports in Long Beach and Los Angeles are the two largest seaports in the United States, handling 40% of inbound US containerized freight. Los Angeles International Airport is the third most active international cargo airport, and its passenger service flies to 91 US cities and 41 nations. All told, international trade from LA County exceeds $400 billion each year. California may have its problems, for sure, but there is still a lot of good things happening here, too!
GOT QUESTIONS? We have answers. Our number one job at NTA is to help your business run legal and be more successful. We are here to serve you, so let us do it! Call us at (800) 805-0040 or visit us at www.ntassoc.com today. We have a brand-new website that has been completely redesigned and is packed with information, yet still easy to navigate and use. I invite you to check it out – you won’t be disappointed!