California Gov. Gavin Newsom vetoed a bill that would have banned self-driving trucks on roads without a human presence, drawing criticism from labor unions concerned about potential job losses.
The message pointed out that the state Legislature provided the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) with the authority to regulate the testing and deployment of autonomous vehicles on public roads in 2012.
“DMV continuously monitors the testing and operations of autonomous vehicles on California roads and has the authority to suspend or revoke permits as necessary to protect the public's safety.”
The new bill was opposed by businesses that claim that self-driving trucks would help more efficiently transport products, while labor unions said that autonomous trucks threaten jobs.
“We will not sit by as bureaucrats side with tech companies, trading our safety and jobs for increased corporate profits. We will continue to fight to make sure that robots do not replace human drivers and that technology is not used to destroy good jobs.”
Jeff Farrah, executive director for the Autonomous Vehicle Industry Association, welcomed the veto.
Potential Loss of Autonomous Vehicle FirmsMr. Newsom faced pressure from within his administration not to sign the bill. The Office of Business and Economic Development warned that signing Assembly Bill 316 could make companies involved in self-driving technologies shift away from California.
“A.B. 316 addresses autonomous trucking in a vacuum,” Dee Dee Myers, director of the Office of Business and Economic Development, said in an Aug. 15 letter to lawmakers.
“The bill fails to recognize that the federal government and nearly a dozen other states are moving forward with this technology. And many of those states are actively positioning themselves to lure away California-based companies and the investments and jobs they bring.”
Jobs Under ThreatMr. Newsom’s veto of Assembly Bill 316 comes as hundreds of truck drivers and several union leaders rallied at the state Capitol in Sacramento on Sept. 19, voicing support for the bill. Semi-trucks were lined in a street in front of the Capitol, with drivers chanting “sign that bill.”
“95 percent bipartisan support in the legislature and 75 percent public support, but Newsom still killed it. He’s giving a green light to put these dangerous rigs on the road,” he said.
“Any politician who turns their back on workers to curry campaign contributions from Corporate America and Big Tech better square up. @Teamsters will not walk away from this fight.”
“Our results on the share of operator-hours at risk from automation would therefore mean that anywhere from 30,000 to >500,000 jobs may be impacted,” the authors wrote.
The report said that even if new jobs would be created in the place of lost ones, these jobs will likely involve local driving and last-mile delivery jobs, which tend to have lower wages.
“Trucking is an extremely competitive sector in which workers often end up absorbing the costs of transitions and inefficiencies," it reads. "Strong policy leadership is needed to ensure that the benefits of innovation in the industry are shared broadly between technology companies, trucking companies, drivers, and communities.”