California Doesn’t Want OOIDA Allowed to Participate in Next Steps of CTA’s AB5 Lawsuit

(Editor’s note: Wednesday’s comments from OOIDA and the California Trucking Association have been added).

California is objecting to the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association participating in the next round of the California Trucking Association’s lawsuit against the state over Independent Contractors Act AB5.

The filing by the state attorney general’s office with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California late last week is the first action by any party since the lower court formalized that AB5 was no longer stuck in the state trucking business. AB5 is expected to significantly impact or even disrupt the use of independent owner-operators by California trucking companies.

OOIDA is seeking to intervene in the 2018 case brought by the CTA against the state’s Attorney General, who is now Rob Bonta. In the original litigation, it was Xavier Becerra, who is now US Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services.

The association first sought to intervene in April 2021, when it said in its filing that the CTA “does not adequately represent the distinct interstate commerce of OOIDA and its members.”

In last year’s OOIDA filing, one of the organization’s main arguments was that the CTA was focusing on what it saw as a conflict between AB5 and the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act. The CTA’s arguments over the so-called F4A settlement prevailed at the district court level in an application for an injunction against AB5, with the lower court granting that block on New Year’s Eve 2019.

When the injunction was issued, consideration of the dormant trade clause was dismissed as a ground of court action, as a potential conflict with F4A was sufficient argument on its own.

But with the April 2021 Court of Appeal decision quashing the injunction and then upheld by the Supreme Court’s inaction at the end of the High Court’s 2021-2022 term, AB5 now applies to trucking and the The CTA’s original lawsuit was remanded to the district court level. It was never fully pleaded the first time around, so the only issue the court ruled on was the injunction.

With this action, the issue of AB5’s potential conflict with the Dormant Commerce Clause, which affects state regulation of commerce with interstate impact, is back in court. An unresolved question is whether OOIDA should be allowed to participate as an intervenor.

But the state thinks it’s too late to let OOIDA in the case and told the court in a filing late last week that it was still too late in 2021 when the organization made its request for the first time.

Since the original CTA case dates back to a 2018 filing, the state ticked off the timeline. OOIDA’s request to be a speaker “came Two and a half years [state emphasis] after this action was first filed, 27 months after the State Defendants’ original motion to dismiss, 19 months after this court decided on the Defendant’s motion to dismiss the First Amendment lawsuit,” the State writes. , and the countdown continues after that.

The California filing indicates that even in April 2021, when OOIDA made its request, there had been three separate versions of the CTA complaint, “a thorough briefing on various substantive issues” and several court rulings.

The State indicates in its filing that there are several standards that must be met for a party to be allowed to participate in a case as an intervener. One is the speed of execution. Another is having a “significantly protectable interest” and that resolving the case could “impair or impair” the potential intervenor’s ability to protect that interest.

Filing OOIDA in April 2021 is not timely, state says. And with that, its ability to “represent the unique interests of independent truckers” is moot because the organization did not apply for intervenor status in a timely manner, according to the attorney general’s office.

In its April 2021 filing, the organization said it had not sought to intervene sooner because “it was only by reviewing the arguments (CTA)… that OOIDA was able to discern that its interests will not be adequately represented”.

Among his concerns was “OOIDA’s expansive interpretation of the FAAAA pre-emption which OOIDA says could stifle states’ ability to pass laws to address other concerns of truck drivers in the future.” OOIDA also noted that CTA’s arguments were only two pages long regarding the allegation of the dormant trade clause, which is a key concern of OOIDA.

Admitting OOIDA as a speaker would create an interesting dynamic. OOIDA, in its 2021 filing, makes it clear that it does not believe CTA’s concerns are high on the association’s list.

But despite this, the two organizations issued a joint statement on Wednesday criticizing the state’s opposition to OOIDA’s involvement in the case.

“It makes no sense for the state to oppose the participation of the nation’s largest and oldest organization representing small business truckers in a lawsuit that harms tens of thousands of OOIDA members. “, reads the joint press release. “We urge the State of California to drop its opposition to the voice of independent truckers and owner-operators being heard in this matter. These are the same workers whose livelihoods are threatened under AB5. Too many questions have remained unanswered regarding this bill. No one benefits when bureaucrats or regulators arbitrarily favor one small business over another.

The main difference is that the focus seems to be on the dormant commerce clause, due to the fact that OOIDA represents a national organization and commerce clause issues deal with interstate commerce.

But there’s also the fact that their members are simply different, according to OOIDA.

CTA members are, in part, large companies that hire drivers, OOIDA said in its 2021 filing. But OOIDA is made up of self-employed truck drivers, he added.

“The contrast of interests between these two groups is significant,” OOIDA said. “While CTA members fear that AB5 will drive up costs and force them to revamp their business models, OOIDA members fear losing their business altogether. There is no party to the current litigation who seeks to represent the interests of interstate truckers based throughout the country.

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