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Independent Contractors

Independent contractors, in the form of owner-operators, are an integral part of the American trucking industry.


Individuals who own motor carrier equipment or operate it under a bona fide lease and drive that equipment often choose to contract that equipment to for-hire and private motor carriers and operate independent businesses as independent contractors.

Their chosen status as independent contractors, not employees, should be honored in the enforcement of state and federal law. For example, as independent contractors, they should not be subject to mandatory coverage under state workers' compensation or unemployment tax laws. Indeed, because such individuals have selected independent contractor status, such state laws should expressly recognize this status and specifically exclude them from coverage as employees.

Additionally, as independent contractors, these individuals should not be considered leased employees for the purposes of counting them for company-provided pension, health or insurance benefits.

Any attempt to categorize independent contractors as employees or leased employees by regulatory or legislative efforts should be challenged as erosion of the independent status. Legislation and regulations should preserve the independent contractor relationship between motor carriers and those individuals who choose to operate as independent contractors, and maintain their complementary roles in the trucking industry. Government agencies should recognize that the terms and rates of compensation between motor carriers and independent contractors are matters of private contract.

The continued availability of independent contractor status under state and federal law must remain a high priority concern for the trucking industry and those segments that utilize contractors.

Amended March 1, 2008


"Lumping" is the unlawful coercion or attempt to coerce a truck owner or operator into paying someone else to load or unload his truck. Both civil and criminal penalties should be assessed for lumping violations.

Motor carriers should not be required to give owner-operators special notice of their loading and unloading responsibilities as that information is already contained in motor carrier tariffs. Any such agreement to load or unload should not interfere with the contractual agreement between owner-operators and motor carriers.

The responsibility for preventing lumping rests with the Interstate Commerce Commission.The Interstate Commerce Commission should implement and maintain an effective enforcement program to prevent lumping.

Adopted February 10, 1991