The ninth busiest port in the world, the Port of Oakland, has been reopened following picketing and protesting over California’s largely contested “gig law” AB5 that caused protesters to effectively bring port operations to a halt. At one point, even night gate operations were suspended. 


Under a three-pronged test, AB5 requires companies to reclassify gig workers and independent contractors as employees for the purposes of benefits such as unemployment protections. It’s the third prong that is causing the biggest issue: “The person is routinely doing work in an independently established trade, occupation, or business that is the same as the work being requested and performed.”


It leaves approximately 70,000 independent owner-operator truckers in a position where they are no longer considered business owners, but they’re left in a limbo between changing their business to be classified as owner-operators or be hired on as full time employees.


CEO of the Harbor Trucking Association (HTA) Matt Schrap said in a statement: “The frustration with the total lack of regard by the state of California for a business model that has provided thousands of men and women an opportunity to build and grow a business is now blatantly obvious.” 


Other entities are stepping up with new business models. TransForce Group changed their branding from a driver staffing company to a “driver solutions” company  to accommodate truckers in a bid to comply with the AB5 law, yet still allowing drivers who own a truck to be independent. 


However, independent owner-operator truckers want a more definite solution. They want to be exempt from the law, like other businesses who have filed for exemptions and won. 


In return for moving their protests to the designated “Free Speech Zone” and allowing port operations to continue, the protesters were offered for the Port of Oakland to create a panel of truckers and port officials to address concerns about the implementation of AB5. 

Freight company owner Navdeep Gill told the Bay Area News Group: “We are responsible citizens and it’s our responsibility to not break the supply chain.” He went on to say they would blockade again if the panel didn’t yield satisfactory results. 


RS Express will continue monitoring this situation closely and will keep you informed of any possible challenges to your cargo strategy that could arise as this continues to unfold. If you have any questions about this, or how we can partner to keep you moving, get in touch today.