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They evaluate the exceptions of California and Washington. Opinion crossing.

On one side, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), on the other the American Trucking Associations (ATA). The two organizations are facing each other over the idea of accepting petitions to evaluate the decisions made in 2018 and 2020 regarding the meal and rest law in both the state of Washington and California.

What does the current law say? In California certain employees who work more than 5 hours a day have a 30 minute break free from work. And those who work more than 10 hours a day have a second 30-minute break. It applies to some drivers of passengers and goods that fall under this exception.

In Washington the rule is a bit different: “Employers must provide employees with a meal period of at least 30 minutes beginning after the second hour and no later than the fifth hour after the shift begins. In addition, the Washington MRB rules provide for a 10-minute rest period “for every four hours of work time” and must occur no later than the end of the third hour of work. The rest period must be scheduled as close as possible to the midpoint of 4 hours of work time, and no employee may be required to work more than 3 consecutive hours without a rest period. applies to truckers who transport property.

Federal law provides another regulation. This standard says that a commercial vehicle driver can take a 30-minute break whenever he requires it if he works more than 8 hours a day.

The difference is noticeable. That is why in 2018 the FMCSA assured that the regulations in force in California and Washington were impossible to apply throughout the country. And it even clarified that the California rules were overridden by the power of federal law.

But now the agency has stated that it is open to accepting petitions from those who want to challenge this decision. “The Agency will consider requests for waivers of its decisions of December 21, 2018 and January 13, 2020, which preempted the State of California meal and rest break (MRB) rules. California for certain commercial auto drivers transporting property and passengers and its November 17, 2020 decision annulling the Washington State MRB rules for certain CMV drivers transporting property,” the published document detailed.

ATA's position

The response from ATA President and CEO Chris Spear was forceful. He not only opposes the FMCSA’s decision, but they state that they will fight to prevent this from happening. His statements:

“Ensuring a single national standard of work rules for professional drivers is crucial for both safety and the supply chain. Congress first addressed this issue decades ago by passing F4A, and USDOT’s authority to preempt state rules was reaffirmed in a 2021 ruling by the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

Federal law already requires breaks for drivers. Unnecessary and duplicative state laws are not based on safety and have been enforced primarily through private lawsuits designed to extort the trucking industry. Opening the door to this spurious litigation would once again undermine the safe and efficient movement of interstate goods.

“ATA is fully prepared to oppose this effort which would result in a confusing patchwork of regulations. We will use all the resources of our Federation to stop this in its tracks.”


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