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Putting California on the High Road: a Jobs and Climate Action Plan for 2030

By Carol Zabin, et. al. - University of California, Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education, June 2020

Over the last 15 years, California has emerged as a national and world leader in the fight to avoid climate disaster, passing a comprehensive and evolving suite of climate measures to accelerate the transition to a carbon- neutral economy. The state has also emerged as a national leader in embracing economic equity as a goal for state policy, charting a path towards a new social compact for shared prosperity in a rapidly changing world. Meaningful commitment to both of these goals—ensuring that all Californians thrive in the transition to a carbon-neutral economy—requires the development and implementation of a bold agenda that aligns California’s ambitious climate and workforce action plans. This report presents a framework for California to advance that agenda.

Assembly Bill 398 (E. Garcia, Chapter 135, Statutes of 2017) required that the California Workforce Development Board (CWDB) present a report to the Legislature on strategies “to help industry, workers, and communities transition to economic and labor-market changes related to statewide greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals.” To fulfill this mandate, the CWDB commissioned the Center for Labor Research and Education at the University of California, Berkeley, to review the existing research in the field and prepare this report. The summary presented here describes the key concepts, findings, and recommendations contained in UC Berkeley’s full work.

The statutory language of AB 398 makes clear that this report should address workforce interventions to ensure that the transition to a carbon-neutral economy:

  • Creates high-quality jobs;
  • Prepares workers with the skills needed to adapt to and master new, zero- and low-emission technologies;
  • Broadens career opportunities for workers from disadvantaged communities; and
  • Supports workers whose jobs may be at risk.

This report presents a comprehensive strategy that identifies roles for state and local climate, economic development, and workforce development agencies in achieving these goals, alongside key partners such as business, labor, community, and education and training institutions. All recommendations align with the CWDB’s Unified Strategic Workforce Development Plan, which has put forth a set of actions to leverage and coordinate the state’s myriad workforce and education programs to support high-quality careers for Californians. In keeping with the statutory directive, the report discussion is further enriched by comments provided to the CWDB through a series of stakeholder meetings held in July and August 2018.

This report builds upon the framework established in California’s 2017 Climate Change Scoping Plan (Scoping Plan), which presents a roadmap of policies and programs to reach the climate protection target in Senate Bill 32 (Pavley, Chapter 42, Statutes of 2016) of a 40 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 from 1990 levels. The Scoping Plan is organized into sectors based on the state’s major sources of greenhouse gas emissions and corresponding climate action measures: Transportation, Industry, Energy, Natural and Working Lands (including Agricultural Lands), Waste, and Water. This report organizes the available information from existing academic research, economic models, and industry studies for the Scoping Plan sectors and presents for each of them:

  • Information about current labor conditions and the impact on jobs of the major climate measures;
  • Guidance for policymakers, agencies, and institutions that implement climate and/or workforce policy on how to best generate family-supporting jobs, broaden career opportunities for disadvantaged workers, deliver the skilled workforce that employers need to achieve California’s climate targets, and protect workers in declining industries; and
  • Examples of concrete, scalable strategies that have connected effective climate action with workforce interventions to produce good outcomes for workers.

Truck Driver Misclassification: Climate, Labor and Environmental Justice Impacts

By Sam Appel and Carol Zabin - New Economics Foundation, August 2019

The next great challenge for California climate policy lies in the transportation sector. Vehicles account for fully 40% of all greenhouse gas emissions in California, the most of any economic sector in our state, and consistent and significant reductions in vehicle emissions remain elusive.

In the transportation sector, commercial trucking is a critical focus area for climate policy. Heavy-duty vehicles emit a fifth of all transportation-related greenhouse gases. They also produce toxic air pollutants that significantly increase risk of cancer and other severe health challenges for California residents, particularly in low-income communities of color.

To meet these challenges, California has passed and continues to develop new policies designed to accelerate the adoption of low- and zero-emissions vehicles in the commercial trucking subsector. These policies set increasingly stringent emissions standards for commercial trucks over time and provide incentives to buy down the cost of new vehicles and retrofits in advance of these mandates.

This report analyzes a major barrier to successful implementation of new clean truck standards: the common trucking industry practice of classifying (and often misclassifying) truck drivers as independent contractors rather than employees.

Contracting out truck driving shifts the costs of truck ownership and operation from trucking companies to individual truck drivers. Contract truck drivers, particularly misclassified contractors, earn low incomes and face high capital costs. While regulatory compliance costs for large trucking firms represent a small percent of total revenue, contract truck drivers face compliance expenses far in excess of their yearly income. Under the contractor business model, truck drivers least equipped financially to buy and maintain clean vehicles bear the financial burden of attaining the state’s climate goals in this sector.

This report describes the fundamental misalignment of the contractor business model in trucking with California’s climate goals. The report proceeds by discussing:

  • California’s policies to reduce heavy-duty truck emissions.
  • The environmental, public health, and environmental justice impacts of non-compliance with emissions standards.
  • The nature of the contractor business model, evidence of the widespread misclassification of independent contractors, and the consequent low incomes of truck drivers.
  • The direct link between low road industry practices and the failure to meet emissions standards.
  • Policy principles that can address the climate, economic justice, and environmental justice challenges in the commercial trucking industry.

Currently, the low road labor practice of misclassifying workers in the trucking industry undermines climate action by shifting the costs of emission reductions to the most economically vulnerable actors in the industry: contract truck drivers. Because drivers are unequipped to meet emissions standards, communities impacted by truck pollution continue to suffer the effects. With the correct policy levers in place, California policymakers have an opportunity to support a trucking industry that complies with climate policy and that upholds employment and labor laws for California workers.

Read the report (PDF).

Bakken truckers often ‘haul heavy’ – Star Tribune

By Maya Rao - Star Tribune, November 9, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

– The dump truck rumbled over miles of unpaved roads in the hills just east of the Montana border, past the cattle and grain bins and haystacks, before arriving at the dirt pit. Bill Gore slid his truck onto the scale, inched up in line, and made a curving gesture to the man in the front-end loader.

That was the signal to pile the dirt on high, and the loader did: Gore’s five-axle truck pulled out of the pit north of Cartwright last week weighing 19,000 pounds more than its registered limit of 82,000 pounds.

“We try to run it as hard as we can,” said Gore, who’s been driving trucks here for four years.

Heavy trucks are the backbone of the ­Bakken oil fields, transporting the water, pipes, and sand needed to produce more than 1 million barrels of oil a day in western North Dakota. They move oil rigs from site to site, crude to pipelines and rail terminals, and dirt and construction materials to build the new roads, homes and businesses needed to serve the exploding population of new workers.

But the frenzied pace of the oil fields and spotty enforcement by authorities have encouraged the rise of overweight trucks. State authorities estimate that one-quarter of the Bakken’s water trucks alone are overloaded.

Trucks hauling larger loads than what they were designed for pose safety concerns because extra weight lessens their braking power and increases the potential damage they could cause in a collision. On the crowded Bakken roads, truck crashes that led to severe injuries jumped twelvefold during a recent four-year period. And 100,000-pound trucks, which are common in oil field traffic, take 25 percent longer to stop than 80,000 pound trucks, according to the Truck Safety Coalition.

Heavy trucks also degrade bridges more quickly and crumble prairie roads built for light farm traffic, prompting the state to make record investments in rebuilding roads and bridges and constructing new bypasses.

In McKenzie County, the state’s top oil-producer, the tiny Sheriff’s Office has a file cabinet containing enormous violations. A driver from an Alexandria, Minn., company was pulled over this summer while hauling a crane that was 61,300 pounds overweight. A trucker from a Clear Lake, Minn., firm was caught driving 76,100 pounds overweight while carrying an excavator.

Trucker Michael Fisher, who acknowledged driving overweight, said one problem is being able to adequately slow down.

“It’s the stopping power,” he said, adding that he tried to keep more distance from other vehicles. “Your brakes are set up to stop a certain amount of weight, and if you increase that, you have a lot more chance of something going wrong.”

The Most Dangerous Road: Fracking Increases Traffic, Puts Drivers at Risk

By Hilary Lewis - Earthworks, October 14, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

A new investigation by Houston Public Media and the Houston Chronicle shows Texas highways are now the nation's deadliest, and fracking is to blame.

Fracking requires thousands of truck trips to haul water, frack fluid and more recently, about 4% of fracked oil.

All the increased traffic has led to more accidents and fatalities. And not just in Texas.

Accidents

A 2014 AP report on roads and traffic fatalities found that fracking requires 2,300 to 4,000 truck trips per well to deliver fracking fluids, which is 33-50% more than conventional methods. With increased truck traffic comes more accidents. US census data in six drilling states shows that in some places, fatalities have more than quadrupled since 2004 — making vehicle crashes the single biggest cause of fatalities for oil and gas workers.

If you zoom in on North Dakota, recently deemed the deadliest place to work by the AFL-CIO, the numbers become starker (via AP):

In North Dakota drilling counties, the population has soared 43 percent over the last decade, while traffic fatalities increased 350 percent. Roads in those counties were nearly twice as deadly per mile driven than the rest of the state.

Another factor in the specific relationship between oil and gas workers and truck accidents (compared to other industries) is the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's (FMCSA) Hours of Service Oilfield Exception. This loophole allows the oil and gas industry to pressure truck drivers to work longer hours, an obvious safety hazard.

The New York Times exposed the drama and debate of the issue in Deadliest Danger Isn’t at the Rig but on the Road in 2012. Check out the annotated Documents on the Oil Field Exemptions From Highway Safety Rules for ignored testimony from truck drivers and the National Transportation Safety Board, and of course the industry defense, from a failed attempt in 2012 to close the loophole.

The Fine Print I:

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The Fine Print II:

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