SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and the California Labor Commissioner’s Office today announced the submission of comments to the U.S. Department of Transportation addressing a petition filed by the American Bus Association (ABA) regarding meal and rest breaks for California workers. In the comment letter, Attorney General Becerra and the California Labor Commissioner’s Office urge the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to deny ABA’s petition, which incorrectly claims that California labor protections for bus drivers are preempted by federal law.
“Depriving drivers of adequate meal and rest breaks undermines regulations put in place to protect the welfare of California workers,” said Attorney General Becerra. “We refuse to sit by as the ABA attempts to avoid granting basic workplace protections to bus drivers. The California Department of Justice will continue to fight to prioritize the health and well-being of workers in our state.”
“California bus drivers have a right to basic worker protections that include meal and rest breaks,” said California Labor Secretary Julie A. Su. “Any scenario that allows drivers to work from 10 to 15 hours a day without breaks not only creates a public safety issue, but violates California labor laws that protect workers across industries. We will resist any efforts to undermine the state’s right to set employment standards that protect workers and create a level playing field.”
The ABA’s petition follows a similar petition filed by the American Trucking Association in 2018. In that case, Attorney General Becerra submitted a comment letter to the FMCSA urging it to protect California’s meal and rest break rules and deny the request. Subsequently, the California Department of Justice and the California Labor Commissioner’s Office filed a petition with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, challenging the FMCSA’s decision finding preemption of the meal and rest break standards.
Attorney General Becerra is dedicated to defending the rights of workers in California and across the country. Last month, Attorney General Becerra led a multistate lawsuit opposing the Trump Administration’s final rule undermining collective bargaining rights for Medicaid in-home care workers nationwide. This spring, the California Department of Justice, as part of a multistate effort, entered into agreements with major fast food companies operating around the country prohibiting them from including provisions in contracts that make it more difficult for employees to seek better pay and benefits at competing franchises. Attorney General Becerra also co-led a coalition of 17 attorneys general in 2018 opposing a Trump Administration rule to allow employers to pocket the tips of certain employees, threatening the loss of up to $5.8 billion of workers’ earned tips.
A copy of the letter is available here.