Court upholds California prevailing wage mandate for mixer truck drivers

Sources: International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT), Washington, D.C.; U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, Los Angeles; CP staff

IBT Joint Council 7 is commending a federal appellate court decision upholding the constitutionality of California Assembly Bill 219 (A.B. 219), which amends state labor code to include mixer truck drivers among workers protected by prevailing wage laws for public works projects. 

“The court made the right decision. California is headed in the right direction on prevailing wage legislation and the rest of the country needs to follow our lead,” says Teamsters Local 853 (San Leandro) Construction Division Director Stu Helfer. 

The union successfully lobbied the California Legislature to pass A.B. 219 in 2015. A group of eight ready mixed producers challenged the state in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, Pasadena, contending that the law violates a) the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause by singling out mixer truck drivers, versus extending prevailing wage requirements to drivers hauling other materials, including asphalt; and, b) the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act of 1994 (FAAAA), prohibiting states from enacting or enforcing policies related to the price, route or service of motor carriers. The District Court dismissed plaintiffs’ FAAAA claim, but determined that A.B. 219 is unconstitutional on equal protection grounds.

In its late-September opinion on the plaintiffs’ challenge to the District Court decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed the lower court’s FAAAA action and reversed its ruling on Fourteenth Amendment protection. “Ready-mix drivers use specialized trucks, with a rotating mixing drum, whereas asphalt drivers use dump trucks,” writes Judge A. Wallace Tashima on behalf of the Ninth Circuit panel reviewing the case. “Ready-mix drivers can change the consistency of their load by adding water to the mixture or altering the speed of rotation of the drum. Further, ready-mix drivers require more training than asphalt drivers and must carry a different driver’s license endorsement than asphalt drivers.”


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