September 06, 2018

Harris, Feinstein, Murray Lead Senate Democrats in Letter to Protect Safety Laws for Truck Drivers

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Kamala D. Harris, Dianne Feinstein (both D-CA), and Patty Murray (D-WA) led a group of Senate Democrats in a letter requesting that Senate leadership and leadership of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation strike a section of the Federal Aviation Administration Act (FAA) Reauthorization that would preempt state laws providing meal and rest breaks to truck drivers.

“The retention of this language could hurt truck drivers and threaten the safety of the men, women, and families who use American roads and highways every day,” the senators wrote. “Truck drivers work long hours, often driving hundreds of miles, risking fatigue and exhaustion…These laws help keep fatigued drivers off the road by placing limits on when and how long they may drive. Eliminating these critical protections could result in an increase in the number of accidents and fatalities that occur on American roadways.”

Currently, twenty-one states and U.S. territories, including California, enforce additional safety regulations requiring that companies provide minimum meal and rest breaks for truck drivers, which keep fatigued drivers off the road. The Department of Transportation has previously acknowledged that these additional safety regulations fall “squarely within the states’ traditional power” to regulate worker health and safety.

The senators continued, “Retaining this anti-labor and anti-safety rider in the FAA reauthorization bill is simply unacceptable. We respectfully request you act to protect public safety, workers’ rights, and states’ authority by striking section 5024 prior to bringing this bill to the Senate floor for a vote.”

In addition to Senators Harris, Feinstein, and Murray, the letter was signed by Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Ed Markey (D-MA), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Bob Casey (D-PA), Gary Peters (D-MI), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), and Margaret Hassan (D-NH).

Full text of the letter below and available here:

 

September 6, 2018

The Honorable Mitch McConnell
Majority Leader
United States Senate 
Washington, D.C. 20510

 

 

The Honorable John Thune

Chairman, Committee on Commerce,

Science, & Transportation

United States Senate

Washington, D.C. 20510

The Honorable Charles Schumer 

Democratic Leader
United States Senate 
Washington, D.C. 20510

 

 

The Honorable Bill Nelson

Ranking Member, Committee on Commerce, Science, & Transportation

United States Senate

Washington, D.C. 20510

 Dear Leader McConnell, Leader Schumer, Chairman Thune, and Ranking Member Nelson:

We write to request that section 5024 be stripped from the Senate substitute amendment for H.R.4, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization Act of 2018. This provision preempts state laws providing meal and rest breaks to truck drivers, undermining states’ ability to protect the safety of the public and regulate its workforce.

The retention of this language could hurt truck drivers and threaten the safety of the men, women, and families who use American roads and highways every day. Truck drivers work long hours, often driving hundreds of miles, risking fatigue and exhaustion. Twenty-one states and U.S. territories have adopted laws requiring motor carriers to provide minimum meal and rest breaks for drivers. These laws help keep fatigued drivers off the road by placing limits on when and how long they may drive. Eliminating these critical protections could result in an increase in the number of accidents and fatalities that occur on American roadways.

The Department of Transportation has acknowledged that state meal and rest break laws fall “squarely within the states’ traditional power to regulate the employment relationship and to protect worker health and safety.” Additionally, Congress has repeatedly struck similar preemption provisions from pending legislation, including from the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act in 2015, the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2017, and the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018. We should follow our past practice and respect states’ right to protect the safety of their workers and the public.

Retaining this anti-labor and anti-safety rider in the FAA reauthorization bill is simply unacceptable. We respectfully request you act to protect public safety, workers’ rights, and states’ authority by striking section 5024 prior to bringing this bill to the Senate floor for a vote.

Sincerely,

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