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By Oren Kadosh, LNS Legal and Policy Researcher

Since truck deregulation, truck drivers are frequently misclassified as independent contractors rather than employees. That has turned much of truck driving from a well-paid, union-protected occupation to one with low wages, egregious working conditions, deprivation of benefits, and onerous costs that are shifted from the employer to the driver. How will new truck pollution regulations affect the workers who drive the trucks?

On May 16 LNS submitted public comments on the Proposed Final Rulemaking to set new heavy-duty engine and vehicle air pollution standards of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Environmental justice and community organizations and experts like the more than 50-member Moving Forward Network have shown why the Proposed Rule lets down communities who need a rapid and just transition to zero emissions vehicles (ZEVs) for the good of our public health and the environment. LNS enthusiastically supported this position along with a just transition for vehicle manufacturing workers whose livelihoods might be at risk in the shift toward 100% electrification.

The focus of LNS’s comments was on EPA’s failure to take into account the Proposed Rule’s impacts on truck drivers. LNS warned that the Proposed Rule will likely result in increased cost burdens on these already devalued workers rather than on the logistics corporations who fundamentally control the operations of medium and heavy-duty fleets from seaport to consumer.

LNS said that EPA should take action under the Clean Air Act and Executive Order 14037 (E.O. 14037), Strengthening American Leadership in Clean Cars and Trucks, to counter the misclassification of drivers and make sure the employers bear the costs for leasing, operating, and maintaining vehicles. And it should work with other agencies to search for and remedy any violations of labor and employment laws and ensure that all trucking jobs are good union jobs.