Don’t Destroy Independent Trucking Jobs in New Jersey
By Gary Cooper
For 52 years, I’ve been proud to call New Jersey home. I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to run my own business here – a small trucking company that I’ve run since 2009.
As an independent trucker, I earn around $125,000 per year—or more than double the $54,585 that company drivers make annually on average—while operating in the ports and across the Garden State hauling goods that Americans buy and enjoy every day.
But now all this is in jeopardy. Everything I’ve worked for – and the way I make my living here in New Jersey – is threatened by a bill in the state legislature introduced by Senate President Steve Sweeney (S.4204) and Assemblymen Joe Egan and Wayne DeAngelo (A.5936).
S.4204 and A.5936 would change the way independent contractors are defined by the law. These bills would in effect outlaw the use of independent contractors in the trucking business. Whether it’s their intention or not, S.4204 and A.5936 would make it illegal for me and thousands of others independent truckers to earn our living in the state of New Jersey. The bills would force me to close my business and move elsewhere.
Regular folks might not realize that independent contracting is essential to making the trucking industry work. The holiday season is a perfect example why, as holiday shopping creates a surge in freight volumes and demand for trucks. By using independent contractors like myself, large trucking companies – the kinds that enter into contracts with big box stores – are able to expand their capacity to meet the increase in seasonal demand, rather than hiring new full-time drivers that are only needed for a month’s time.
This model is what I call a win-win-win. It benefits consumers by ensuring store shelves are stocked purchases arrive on time. It benefits large fleets by giving them the resources to serve their customers during peak freight seasons. And it allows independent truckers like myself to run our own companies on our own terms.
I can appreciate that S.4204 and A.5936 are intended to protect independent contractors in other industries who may be abused, but their one-size-fits-all approach does not account for how the trucking industry works. Rather than helping us, the bills are going to destroy our living as independent truckers.
I love being an independent contractor in trucking. I enjoy the freedom of being my own boss. It gives me schedule flexibility. I can decide how much I make, instead of being paid a fixed amount as a company driver for a big fleet. I can control my income more or less according to my needs and abilities. With drive and determination, I can go as far as I want and expand my business at my own will. If it’s a rainy day, I can decide to work or not work in inclement weather. It gives me the freedom to live a prosperous and happy life.
I’m not alone. There are thousands of my fellow trucking brothers and sisters who are facing the same dire consequences of this legislation. I understand that some 77% of drivers who work at the Port of New York and New Jersey are independent contractors. Should this bill pass into law, it’s going to create a catastrophic logjam at the port and a severely disrupt the flow of commerce through our state.
I can’t believe that after 52 years of living in New Jersey, I am now faced with the possibility of being forced to leave. I love trucking, and I love the freedom and empowerment that comes with being an independent trucker. I implore Senator Sweeney and Assemblymen Egan and DeAngelo to revise S.4204 and A.5936, and to consider the harm those bills are going to inflict on so many hard-working New Jerseyans
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