Labor and Healthcare
DOL Overtime Rule • Minimum Wage • Healthcare
The DRIVE Safe Act (S. 659/H.R. 1745)
The trucking industry is facing a shortage of more than 60,000 qualified drivers, coupled with a projected need to hire 1.1 million new drivers over the next decade to keep up with increasing freight demand and workforce retirements. Younger drivers are needed with a median age of 49 for over-the road truck drivers—seven years older than the average U.S. worker.
- Enactment of the Developing Responsible Individuals for a Vibrant Economy (DRIVE) Safe Act would establish an apprenticeship program to train 18-20 year-old qualified drivers who satisfy the common-sense safety, training, and technology requirements to operate in interstate commerce.
- The bill would remove the single biggest regulatory barrier underlying the truck driver shortage while equipping young people with skills for jobs whose median pay is $54,585, plus health and retirement benefits.
While nearly all states allow a driver to obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL) at 18, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration rules do not allow drivers under 21 to operate in interstate commerce. This means a 20-year-old truck driver from Arlington, VA can drive nearly 200 miles to Norfolk, but can’t make the 10-mile trek to Bethesda, MD. As a result, many companies cannot recruit high school graduates who may be interested in entering the trucking profession. Young Americans are faced with taking on college debt or a job market with grim prospects for untrained workers. It’s time to give them the tools they need to earn while they learn, by connecting them to apprenticeships that prepare them for middle-class careers and are also needed to ease the trucking workforce shortage that is creating a bottleneck for the economy.
Previously introduced to the 115th and 116th Congresses with strong bipartisan support, the DRIVE Safe Act would enable 18-20 year-old apprentices who have obtained their CDL’s to drive trucks safely in intrastate commerce. The bill would amend the current minimum age requirement for interstate drivers, which was promulgated decades ago, to allow these qualified drivers to operate in interstate commerce once they have completed the following apprenticeship program requirements:
- Satisfy a minimum of 400 hours of training and 11 performance benchmarks;
- Complete those hours of training under the supervision of an experienced driver; and
- Train in trucks equipped with industry-leading safety technologies, such as Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB), event recorders/cameras, speed-limiters, and automatic transmissions.
Who supports the DRIVE Safe Act?
The DRIVE Safe Act has been endorsed and supported by more than 90 companies and trade associations throughout the supply chain, including trucking, manufacturing, agriculture, retail and restaurants.
Here is a real-time look at who is cosponsoring these bills:
S. 659 | https://www.congress.gov/bill/117th-congress/senate-bill/659
H.R. 1745 | https://www.congress.gov/bill/117th-congress/house-bill/1745
DOL Overtime Rule
The Trump Administration dropped its defense of the Obama-era Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) overtime rule, promulgated in late 2016. The rule raised the salary threshold for overtime eligibility from $455/week (which amounts to $23,660 annually) to $913/week ($47,476 annually). States and business groups challenged the rule in court, alleging that DOL overstepped its authority, and a federal district court blocked the rule just days before it was set to take effect. DOL initially defended the lawsuit, but elected to drop its defense after the inauguration of President Trump.
The federal district court judge who blocked the rule from coming into effect questioned the legality of any salary threshold, a standard DOL has used as one factor for determining overtime eligibility since the 1940s. In dropping its defense, the agency also asked the 5th Circuit to approve the use of some (presumably lower) threshold, arguing that there was "no basis to call into question a regulatory test that has been in place since the FLSA’s inception."
CDA will actively participate in the regulatory process to ensure that any new rules governing overtime pay is fair and equitable for employers.
CDA opposes legislation to increase the minimum wage and urges Congress to oppose such initiatives, which would have a tremendously deleterious impact on our economy overall. Even the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) stated in their report on 2016 on this issue that total U.S. employment could be reduced by 500,000 jobs as a direct result of the increase. According to the CBO report, “once fully implemented in the second half of 2016, the $10.10 option would reduce total employment by about 500,000 workers, or 0.3 percent.”
Hiking the minimum wage hurts, not helps, the lowest paid workers. The typical minimum-wage employee is young, with few skills and little or no job experience. Higher labor costs mean fewer people get hired, job loss and less working hours.
Repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was an oft-repeated promise on the campaign trail, invoked by the President as well as congressional Republicans. Even before the President’s inauguration, conversations had begun about a quick timeline to repeal and replace the ACA. The events of last year demonstrated the difficulty of making improvements to our healthcare system. After initially failing on the floor, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 1628, the American Health Care Act (AHCA), to repeal and replace the ACA in May 2017. The Senate later brought the House bill to the floor but was unable to pass it, despite several amendments to allay concerns of several Republican Senators. CDA lobbied in support of the bill because it repealed the employer mandate and made other changes that reflect a free market approach to healthcare.
While unable to pass a wholesale repeal and replace bill, Republicans were able to repeal the ACA’s individual mandate via H.R. 1, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which was signed into law in late 2017. The President has taken several administrative actions to unravel the ACA and a federal judge has ruled portions of the ACA unconstitutional.