Bill Will Expand Employment Rights to Workers Illegally Misclassified by Employers
Kara DenizEmail: [email protected] Phone: (202) 624-6911
(TRENTON, N.J.) – Today, truck drivers, Teamsters and worker allies testified before the New Jersey Senate Labor Committee in favor of S4204, legislation that will expand employment rights to thousands of workers who are misclassified by their employers as ‘independent contractors.’
The illegal practice of misclassification allows companies to avoid the costs of standard workplace protections like workers’ compensation, health care, minimum wage and Social Security, passing costs off onto taxpayers, depriving the state of revenue, and putting law-abiding companies at a competitive disadvantage.
“The Teamsters Union has supported workers in their fight against misclassification for years because it’s an illegal practice that hurts working people and communities,” said Fred Potter, Teamsters International Vice President At Large and Director of the Teamsters Port Division. “S4204 will expand rights to employees who have been denied them for far too long. And it will further expose to the public the uncomfortable truth that trucking companies have been trying to avoid for some time—that their practice of misclassification is already illegal. We challenge these companies to make a change, stop cheating workers of wages and the state of taxes, and start properly classifying their employees today.”
In New Jersey, a 2018 state audit found 12,315 workers were misclassified, over $462 million in wages were underreported and nearly $14 million in unemployment, disability, family leave insurance and other contributions were underreported. Since the audit was of one percent of registered N.J. employers, the true costs of misclassification are much greater.
“As truck drivers we’re providing for not only our communities, but for our families as well. It’s not about asking for money, it’s about getting what’s fair. We should be able to work, make fair wages and retire with dignity and a decent pension, but instead we’re met with abuse and cheated out of well-deserved wages and benefits every single day,” said Rafi De La Cruz, a port truck driver in New Jersey. “This is a difficult and important job and we know the value of our work to this state’s economy. S4204 will expand the rights that we’ve been cheated out of by greedy and shady companies all these years, and as truckers we will continue to fight for what’s fair until we finally win back dignity and justice on the job.”
California recently passed Assembly Bill 5 (AB 5) to expand employment rights to employees. The bill was supported by Teamsters and thousands of workers throughout the state, including truck drivers at the ports who are illegally misclassified as independent contractors by their employers, including companies like NFI. The California Trucking Association has mounted a legal challenge to the bill, while companies like Uber, Lyft and Door Dash are putting $90 million toward challenging AB5, a law that will help provide workers with what they have earned and allow them to support their families.
“Companies that want to continue breaking the law will falsely claim that this bill bans independent contractors. This bill is not about true contractors; it’s about misclassified drivers who have always been employees in the eyes of the law,” said Potter, who is also President of Teamsters Local 469 in Hazlet, N.J. “It’s long past due for employers who abuse their workers by misclassifying them to be held accountable. S4204 will help New Jersey workers get the fairness they deserve.”
Founded in 1903, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents 1.4 million hardworking men and women throughout the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. Visit www.teamster.org for more information. Follow us on Twitter @Teamsters and “like” us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/teamsters.