California Teamsters demand human operators for autonomous trucks

Fighting for the Teamster drivers and the California driving public, Teamsters from Joint Councils 7 and 42 came together in force on January 30 at the state Capitol to demand that the legislature take action to mandate a human operator on all autonomous vehicles (AVs) over 10,000 pounds. Nearly 300 Teamsters were joined by the California Labor Federation and other union members to say, loud and clear, “No AVs without human operators!” Assemblymembers Cecilia Aguiar-Curry (D-Winters) and Tom Lackey (R-Palmdale) introduced a bill (AB316) meeting that demand.

The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) held a hearing on January 27 seeking input from stakeholders about whether to unleash trucks without drivers on the roads. While the tech companies who are producing the AVs claim that they are safe, recent reports of numerous accidents with autonomous cars prove they might not yet be ready for prime time. Drivers testified that the AV trucks tend to lock up if they sense trouble ahead, and nothing can be done to stop them. Calling themselves “first responders of the road,” they also told stories about the role they play in helping stranded drivers and others in trouble on the road—things that an AV could never do. 

The events generated significant media coverage (see below for just a few of the articles). Teamsters plan to make this bill a priority for the coming legislative session.