Legislation Would Protect Middle Class Jobs, Motorist Safety
(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) – Teamsters, California lawmakers, and labor allies gathered at the statehouse in Sacramento today to announce the reintroduction of legislation requiring a trained human operator behind the wheel of self-driving trucks weighing more than 10,000 lbs. Assembly Bill 2286 (AB 2286), formerly Assembly Bill 316 (AB 316), is part of the CARS package that the Teamsters are advocating for in Sacramento, alongside Senate Bill 915. Full video of the event can be found here.
“As autonomous vehicle companies try to push their new, untested technology onto our roads, we need to prioritize legislation that will protect our streets and good-paying driving jobs, and that starts with AB 2286,” said Peter Finn, Teamsters International Western Region Vice President, President of Teamsters Joint Council 7. “We’ve seen the destruction that small robotaxis can cause, injuring pedestrians and preventing first responders from doing their job. We cannot allow driverless vehicles weighing ten times that of a robotaxi onto our roads without a human operator. That’s why the Teamsters are calling on California policymakers to pass AB 2286.”
The AV human operator bill was first introduced by Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar-Curry (D – Winters) in January 2023 and received overwhelming bipartisan support in the legislature, with more than 90 percent of California lawmakers voting in favor of the legislation. According to a 2023 poll, nearly three-quarters of California voters across party lines, gender, geography, and all other demographics also said they support having a human operator behind the wheel of autonomous trucks.
“I’ve reintroduced this bill because the Legislature’s role is critical in deciding when autonomous trucking is safe and when there is a REAL plan for our trucking workers,” said Assembly Majority Leader Cecilia Aguiar-Curry (D-Winters). “The autonomous trucking industry has cast this bill as a ban on technology when it explicitly states that testing and deployment will happen with a Human Safety Operator. Using their logic, they’re the ones who support a ban. A ban on humans in trucks. A ban on working people’s ability to provide for their families and provide safe roadways for Californians. We will not stand by and let them put profits over people.”
“All eyes are watching to see if California will take the first step towards passing common sense autonomous vehicle regulation. AB 2286 is not a ban on self-driving technology – it is a bipartisan bill that puts safety first by ensuring a trained human operator behind the wheel of autonomous trucks,” said Chris Griswold, Teamsters International Vice President At-Large, President of Teamsters Joint Council 42. “If we learned anything last year, it was that autonomous vehicles are not ready for prime time. We cannot keep making the same mistake and allowing Big Tech to run the show at the expense of public safety. California needs to pass AB 2286.”
Since Governor Gavin Newsom vetoed AB 316 in September 2023, robotaxis have wreaked havoc on California streets, with one Cruise robotaxi running over a pedestrian and dragging her 20 feet in San Francisco. In the wake of this safety incident, the U.S. Department of Justice has opened an investigation into Cruise, while San Francisco has brought a lawsuit against the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) for allowing for the expansion of robotaxis in the city. Last week, an additional investigation was opened into Cruise after reports that the vehicles nearly collided with children in two separate incidents, and a Waymo robotaxi crashed into a cyclist in San Francisco.
In addition to Assemblymember Aguiar-Curry, Teamsters were joined by Assemblymembers Tom Lackey (R – Boron) and Laura Friedman (D – Glendale).
“Artificial Intelligence needs to be developed and implemented in a way that benefits everyone – not just wealthy shareholders who only care about the bottom line. So I urge all California electeds to please listen to professional drivers like me who operate this machinery every day,” said Julia Sandoval, a Recology driver and member of Teamsters Local 350. “We know big trucks and we know California roads. Please, protect public safety and middle-class prosperity in California by supporting AB 2286.”
The Teamsters are committed to protecting good-paying union jobs, keeping dangerous autonomous vehicles off our streets, and ensuring local communities have a say in AV deployment and regulation. Earlier this month, the Teamsters held a rally to announce the introduction of SB 915, a bill that would give California’s local municipalities more authority over such regulations. The growing statewide support for AV safety measures comes as Waymo seeks to expand its robotaxi operations in California.