Judge Exempts 70,000 Truckers From California 'Gig Worker' Law

A federal judge in San Diego has temporarily blocked California's new 'gig worker' labor law from impacting some 70,000 independent truckers, ruling they would suffer 'irreparable harm' if their employers are forced to classify them as salaried employees.

US District Judge Roger Benitez on Tuesday granted a temporary restraining order requested by the California Trucking Association while he decides on whether to issue a permanent injunction - noting that the association is likely to eventually prevail on its argument that California's law runs afoul of federal law, according to CBS News. Benitez added that the injunction is in the public interest.

The public focus of the law has largely involved ride-share companies such as Uber and Lyft and food delivery companies like DoorDash and Postmates, which have vowed their own challenges in court and at the ballot box. There are about 400,000 workers in California doing such "gig" work, according to various estimates. However, an additional 1.5 million workers in California, doing jobs such as cleaning, construction, building maintenance and trucking, are likely to feel its effects.

The trucking association's lawsuit, filed in November, said many truckers would have to abandon $150,000 investments in clean trucks and the right to set their own schedules in order for companies to comply with AB5, which the group says illegally infringes on interstate commerce. -CBS News

Opposing the trucking association is Democratic Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez of San Diego, who says the state will continue to fight "to return jobs in the trucking industry to good, middle class careers."

"For decades, trucking companies have profited from misclassifying drivers as independent contractors, taking away rights such as meal and rest periods and fair pay," she added.

Meanwhile, freelance writers and photographers filed a lawsuit last month to block the law, arguing that it's an unconstitutional violation of free speech and the media.

On Tuesday, the American Society of Journalists and Authors and the National Press Photographers Association asked a federal judge to grant them a temporary restraining order while he considers a more permanent injunction in March. However, no date was immediately set for a hearing or decision by U.S. District Judge Philip Gutierrez in Los Angeles. -CBS News

Uber claims the law doesn't apply to its drivers, filing a Monday lawsuit along with Postmates to challenge the legislation.