‘Tis the season to keep fighting. As you are all aware, Gov. Gavin Newsom showed his true colors with a late Friday night veto of AB 316, our proposed legislation that Autonomous Vehicles weighing more than 10,000 have a human safety operator. Are we angry and disappointed? Of course we are! But that just means we’ll fight even harder to ensure that we keep our streets safe and protect good freight driving jobs. We are at a pivotal moment, as AI has become the No. 1 topic of concern for workers. We saw this with the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes, and through our own fight against the unregulated and irresponsible rollout of autonomous vehicles by our Governor, the DMV, and CPUC. However, through the gloom, we have opportunity.
We haven’t stayed quiet since our bill was vetoed; we’ve taken the fight to cities and local jurisdictions. We’ve protested outside of Cruise and Waymo headquarters. We’ve worked with different local elected officials throughout the state to pass motions and land use ordinances regarding autonomous vehicles and the safety of residents. Our local cities and counties have limited ability to control these vehicles, and we plan to work with them to continue the fight for local control over the expansion of these vehicles. This is about engaging not only ourselves, but our communities that are also being negatively impacted.
A significant win was when Cruise lost their permit to operate driverless vehicles in San Francisco, and eventually decided to pull back their operations altogether. Unfortunately, this wasn’t because they didn’t want to push forward, but was because their bad business practices were exposed. They hid evidence of the pedestrian crash; they had data they didn’t share that showed they couldn’t detect certain things such as small children, and the unlimited access they had to DMV leadership that the public was not aware of. The lack of transparency and free reign that the DMV has allowed these companies is appalling.
That is why we must continue to be the watchdog, and push for regulation on all levels of government. We’ve made this clear during our endorsement interview process with local, state, and federal candidates. We need to be smart and thoughtful about the impacts on workers and society when it comes to AI. The Teamsters have been clear: We aren’t opposed to technology that helps make us safer at our jobs or improves the quality of our jobs, but we are opposed to technology that will eliminate our jobs altogether. If we continue down this path of insufficient regulation and reckless expansion, we’ll find ourselves displaced by technology and not to mention the catastrophic impact such massive job loss will have on our economy.
We might be David as we fight the Goliath that is big tech, but we can use our slingshot and five stones to win. First, we need to elect our recommended and endorsed candidates who have a track record of standing up for working people this upcoming March. Second, we need to continue to remind our current elected officials that they need to stand with us in this fight on all levels of government. Third, we need to participate in the political process, whether it’s through voting, volunteering on a campaign, donating to DRIVE, or coming to the Capitol to push legislation we’re sponsoring that deals with AI and AV. Fourth, we need to engage our community in this fight, as this is not just about the Teamsters or labor, it’s about us as society. Lastly, we need to continue to expose and hold these companies accountable. We might be small compared to big tech, but we are mighty because we are the Teamsters.