BlueGreen Alliance | California Commits to Workforce Standards in Clean Trucking Subsidies in win for Labor, Environmental Advocacy, and Environmental Justice Groups

California Commits to Workforce Standards in Clean Trucking Subsidies in win for Labor, Environmental Advocacy, and Environmental Justice Groups

October 9, 2021

Today, Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law Assembly Bill 794, which will put California on track to meet bold zero-emission vehicle goals and advance the cause of economic justice for exploited truck drivers in the state. 

The BlueGreen Alliance, California Teamsters, Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy, Natural Resources Defense Council, and a broad coalition of partners worked to secure AB 794, and with it, essential protections against employee misclassification for truck drivers. Advocates noted that such workforce standards can promote high-quality jobs, a smoother transition to low carbon vehicles, and improved health for communities of color exposed to toxic air pollution from heavy-duty vehicles along California’s freeways.

After Governor Newsom’s signing of the bill, labor, environmental advocacy, and environmental justice groups released the following statements:

“California leads the nation in clean energy and worker policies—Assembly Bill 794 builds on this legacy by ensuring that jobs in the clean economy lift all boats, especially for exploited workers in industries like trucking and goods movement,” said Sam Appel, BlueGreen Alliance California State Manager. ”The shift to zero-emission trucks offers an opportunity to improve an incredibly punishing industry for workers, while improving air quality for heavily pollution-impacted communities. This is a win for workers, communities, and state environmental goals as we pave a path to future labor-climate wins.”

“The Teamsters Union has been fighting misclassification in the trucking industry for decades,” said Ron Herrera, Director of the Teamsters Port Division and President of the LA County Federation of Labor. “Today, Governor Newsom signed the first law in the country to condition vehicle subsidies on labor law compliance, creating a model for state and federal policy. AB 794 will help us meet climate goals while creating good jobs in the trucking industry and a level playing field for companies that follow the law.”

“Ensuring California’s clean truck investments are also protecting workers is critical for a clean and fair economy,” said Simon Mui, Deputy Director of the clean vehicles and fuels group at NRDC. “This important new law will help protect workers and public health around port communities and warehouses.”

“California is setting the example for how our public incentive dollars can transform an industry for the better, upholding labor standards while lowering emissions,” said Jessica Durrum, Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy (LAANE) Ports Project Director. “This new law will protect drivers from the predatory leasing schemes and wage theft that have pervaded the trucking industry for far too long. There is simply no path forward to zero emissions if we do not put an end to driver misclassification and bring the industry into compliance, and this landmark legislation is the critical first step.”

“We are excited to see the just transition in transportation happen right in front of our eyes!” said Andrea Vidaurre, Co-founder of People’s Collective for Environmental Justice. “Our fight to reverse the impacts of climate chaos means we start by addressing injustices faced by our most impacted workers and community members. Moving forward, it will be essential to continue putting workforce protections in our climate policies!”

“Clean air and a just economy are not mutually exclusive goals; one does not have to come at the expense of the other,” said Chris Chavez, Deputy Policy Director at Coalition for Clean Air. “AB 794 strengthens California’s investments in clean trucks while taking a stand against the unfair practice of misclassifying port and short-haul truck drivers. Thanks to Governor Newsom’s signature, this new law will give truckers and their families the financial protection they are entitled to, while also bringing cleaner trucks, and as a result, cleaner air, to their neighborhoods.”