Out-of-state trucking companies want to push the cost of caring for injured truck drivers onto North Carolina taxpayers.
It’s just the latest effort by big business to destroy North Carolina’s workers’ compensation system and to gut benefits in favor of profits.
N.C. Senate Bill 205, which is currently being considered in committee but could soon be brought to a vote in the N.C. General Assembly, seeks to change how trucking companies and their employees are covered when they’re injured on the job. If this legislation passes, it puts injured truck drivers at real risk and will shift the expense of covering their injuries to taxpayers.
Truck driving is one of the most dangerous occupations; many of the injuries are catastrophic.
A little background on how N.C. workers’ compensation laws work in regards to truck drivers:
In 2003, state law was enacted to allow allow trucking companies to cover their independent contractors in a blanket workers’ compensation policy. The law allows trucking companies to charge back the costs of that coverage to drivers, giving independent contractors coverage in the event of a wreck or other work-related injury. The N.C. Trucking Association supported this legislation.
In 2006, the statute was amended to exempt mom-and-mom trucking companies from providing this type of workers’ comp coverage when they contract with an owner/operator drivers using their own truck. The amended law is a balanced provision resulting from hours of negotiation. It was fair to small mom-and-pop trucking companies and to owner-operator drivers.
Senate Bill 205 would extend the mom-and-pop exemption to practically any operator working for an independent trucker. It undercuts the idea that all truck drivers should be covered under workers’ compensation.
Large out-of-state trucking companies have for years made efforts to push their workers’ compensation obligations off onto drivers, sub-contractors or the public. One of the ways they have done this is to substitute inferior “occupational accident” policies for workers’ compensation.
That’s what they want to do with SB 205. But these occupational accident policies are largely unregulated, notoriously difficult to deal with when claims are filed, and have widely varying provisions for medical or wage replacement coverage. As a result the cost of caring for injured truckers is shifted from industry to taxpayers.
If this legislation passes, it would lead to the misclassification of truck drivers as independent contractors, instead of employees, and leave drivers largely unprotected.
As I mentioned before, SB 205 is in committee, and our best chance of defeating this bad legislation is to stop it there before it’s sent to the full N.C. General Assembly for a vote. With the crossover deadline looming, that could happen soon.
Please reach out to the following members of the Senate Judiciary 2 Committee and let them know SB 205 is a bad idea:
Co-chair Senator Tamara Barringer
Republican – District 17
Co-chair Senator Warren Daniel
Republican – District 46
Co-chair Senator Shirley B. Randleman
Republican – District 30
Stokes, Surry, Wilkes
Senator Stan Bingham
Republican – District 33
Senator Andy Wells
Republican – District 42
Senator John M. Alexander, Jr.
Republican – District 15
(Alexander is president of Cardinal International Trucks, a truck sales company.)
Senator Chad Barefoot
Republican – District 18
Senator Bill Cook
Republican – District 1
Beaufort, Camden, Currituck, Dare, Gates, Hyde, Pasquotank, Perquimans
Senator David L. Curtis
Republican – District 44
Gaston, Iredell, Lincoln
Senator Joyce Krawiec
Republican – District 31
Senator Jim Davis
Republican – District 50
Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Haywood, Jackson, Macon, Swain
Senator Tom McInnis
Republican – District 25
Anson, Richmond, Rowan, Scotland, Stanly
When you call these legislators, let them know that you are reaching out to oppose Senate Bill 205, which is in the Judiciary 2 committee. Urge them to not let big out of state trucking companies push the costs of injured drivers off on onto taxpayers.
Thanks for your prompt action on this important legislative issue.