The New Jersey Senate gave final legislative approval to a bill creating a presumption that port and parcel delivery drivers are employees instead of independent contractors. Business groups will urge Gov. Chris Christie to veto the bill.
The Teamsters-backed bill won 21-17 Senate approval, with two abstentions. The bill previously passed the General Assembly on a 42-30 vote, with five abstentions. The votes were along party lines, with most Democrats in favor and Republicans opposed.
Christie, a Republican, is considered unlikely to approve the bill. He has 45 days to act on the legislation.
The Teamsters union contends the legislation is needed to prevent companies from misclassifying owner-operator drivers as contractors in order to avoid Social Security, Medicare and unemployment obligations.
Classifying owner-operators as company employees instead of independent contractors also would make the drivers eligible to unionize.
Business groups including the New Jersey Motor Truck Association oppose the legislation. They say it would make it impossible for motor carriers to hire owner-operators, and would allow unions to use lawsuits as an organizing tool.
Besides putting the burden on employers to show that drivers are employees, the bill would allow workers and unions to file class-action lawsuits on behalf of allegedly misclassified drivers.
The New Jersey bill is one of several union-backed bills that have been filed in statehouses around the country in an effort to classify owner-operators as company employees.