SC&RA Leadership Secures Win for Trucking & Primacy of FMCSA

- SC&RA hails the January 15 unanimous decision of U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, upholding the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s 2018 ruling that California’s meal and rest break rules were preempted by federal law. The court also reaffirmed FMCSA primary authority to regulate commercial motor vehicle safety in the United States which is essential to interstate commerce.

“From the beginning, our advocacy on this issue, specifically the 2018 petition granted by FMCSA, followed by our amicus curiae brief supporting the FMCSA determination, was focused on safe and uniform trucking standards for all of our members,” said SC&RA CEO Joel Dandrea. “This is a victory not only for our specialized trucking members, but for the trucking industry as a whole, and our nation.”

In 2018, FMCSA announced that it had granted a petition determining that the State of California’s laws requiring minimum meal and rest breaks for truckers operating in the State of California are preempted by federal hours-of-service laws (49 U.S.C. § 31141). FMCSA’s initial decision came in response to widespread apprehension from drivers, concerned citizens, and industry stakeholders. In particular, SC&RA’s argument on federal primacy over motor carrier safety was viewed within FMCSA as “key and essential” in granting this much-needed exemption.  

The Teamsters Union and the California Labor Commission challenged FMCSA’s decision to exempt carriers from the state’s regulations. SC&RA maintained that failure to support the FMCSA’s Determination of Preemption regarding California’s meal and rest break rules would have far reaching effect on FMCSA’s authority to regulate trucking safety and threaten steps that had been taken legislatively over the past thirty years to establish a national uniform system of motor carrier safety.

SC&RA, along with PODS Enterprises, LLC, Ryder System Inc., and Western States Trucking Association, filed an amicus curiae brief in late 2019 in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Local 2785 and Everardo Luna, et al., v. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, et al. The Association filed the brief in support of FMCSA’s primacy in the regulatory oversight of trucking safety and its decision to preempt California’s meal and rest break rules.

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