Christie Vetoes Bill That Would Have Prevented Some Truck Drivers From Being Treated As Independent Contractors

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TRENTON — Gov. Chris Christie vetoed a bill that would have protected some truck drivers from being inappropriately classified as “independent contractors,” drawing criticism from one of the bill’s sponsors.

“Because of the Governor’s veto, unethical companies will continue to skirt the law by gaming the system to avoid paying their fair share of taxes,” said Assembly Deputy Speaker John S. Wisniewski.  “In doing so, they will also continue to deprive their drivers of Social Security, Medicare, Workers’ Compensation and Unemployment benefits.”

This “is just the latest example of the Governor siding against hard working New Jerseyans. His veto keeps in place a system that is unfair to workers and unfair to those companies that play by the rules,” Wisniewski said.

The bill passed by a 43-30-5 vote in the Assembly and a 21-17 vote in the state Senate, so lawmakers are unlikely to override the governor’s veto.

Under the bill, “drayage,” or short-distance truckers, and parcel delivery drivers could not be classified as “independent contractors” unless the employers can show that the workers are truly independent. The businesses would have to demonstrate to the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development that the workers are free from their day-to-day control, that the service is outside the usual course or place of business and that the employee is customarily engaged in an independent trade or occupation.

A 2009 study by the General Accounting Office found that an estimated 15 percent of employees nationwide are misclassified as independent contractors. A 2005 report by the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development estimated that 28,200 workers in New Jersey were wrongly classified.

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