(SAN FRANCISCO) – Teamsters rallied at San Francisco City Hall today with San Francisco elected officials and fellow union affiliates of the California Labor Federation to demand the passage of Assembly Bill 316 (AB 316), a bipartisan bill that would require a trained human operator in autonomous vehicles weighing over 10,000 lbs. Following the rally, Teamsters and their allies marched to the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) public workshop on the testing and deployment of autonomous vehicles (AVs) to testify against allowing large AVs on public roads without a human operator. A full video of the rally can be viewed here.
Today’s rally represents the latest push by California Teamsters and labor allies to demand higher public safety standards as unelected DMV bureaucrats contemplate a new regulatory framework that would allow for AVs over 10,000 lbs. to hit the road with little-to-no oversight as soon as next year. The rally comes just days after AB 316 unanimously passed the Senate Transportation Committee with strong bipartisan support. The bill now heads to the Senate floor.
“A decision of this magnitude — allowing dangerous driverless trucks on California freeways — should not be made by a bureaucratic agency like DMV that takes its cues from greedy tech corporations while disregarding the voices of truck drivers, labor and the community,” said Jason Rabinowitz, President of Teamsters Joint Council 7. “Policy on automated trucks should be made by the legislature and should protect our safety and our jobs. That’s why we need to pass AB316, and Governor Newsom must sign it – to choose the interests of workers and all human beings over robots and corporate profits.”
AB 316, introduced in January, is authored by California Assembly Members Cecilia Aguiar-Curry (D-Winters), Asm. Tom Lackey (R-Palmdale), and Asm. Ash Kalra (D-San Jose). It has received strong bipartisan support throughout its passage in the California legislature.
As the Teamsters and labor allies demand more AVs safety standards, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) delayed a vote this week on the unlimited expansion of Cruise and Waymo robotaxis throughout San Francisco amid widespread public outcry from first responders. It is the second time the vote has been postponed following backlash.
“Any agency that is willing to take away thousands of jobs from hard-working Californians simply to line the pockets of Big Tech is disgraceful,” said Mike Di Bene, a Republic Services driver and member of Teamsters Local 70. “And to do so knowing that someone, somewhere on California roads will lose their life to unproven and unreliable technology – it isn’t right. It’s downright wicked.”
“What’s happening in San Francisco is really a fight for urban areas across this country. It’s a fight for public safety, it’s a fight for decent regulation. It’s a fight for workers and it’s all rolling out right here,” said Aaron Peskin, President of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. “We need bills like AB 316 in order to get local control and public safety back into this fight.”
Reports of AV crashes and AV-related deaths have become increasingly common. In San Francisco, robotaxis have hit and killed dogs, crashed into buses and reportedly blocked emergency personnel from assisting people in need. Given these serious reports, it is no surprise that the general public has become increasingly fearful and skeptical of automated vehicles. A March 2023 study from the American Automobile Association (AAA) found that nearly 70 percent of Americans are afraid of fully self-driving cars, a significant increase from previous years.
“The fact that the DMV is apparently considering the expansion of large AVs when there’s already safety incidents involving smaller robotaxis nearly every week in San Francisco is an insult to California voters,” said Peter Finn, Teamsters Western Region International Vice President and Secretary-Treasurer of Local 856. “It’s obvious to everyone outside of tech that these vehicles aren’t ready for primetime and are a threat to prosperous middle-class jobs. The DMV needs to stick to what it knows – which is definitely not public safety – and leave lawmaking to lawmakers.”
“This is a tragic issue. Now more than ever after COVID, we need to put people first,” said Kim Tavaglione, Executive Director of the San Francisco Labor Council. “It is up to every one of us to ensure the safety of every Californian. We need to stand up and support AB 316, and we need to make sure that every Californian is safe. Until the technology is safe, we say no to autonomous vehicles.”
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Founded in 1903, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents 1.2 million hardworking people in the U.S., Canada, and Puerto Rico. Visit Teamster.org for more information. Follow us on Twitter @Teamsters and “like” us on Facebook at Facebook.com/teamsters.
The California Labor Federation represents over 1,200 affiliate unions in California that represent over 2.2 million union members in retail, hospitality, and other service sector jobs, janitorial, construction, manufacturing, health care, local and state government, education, arts and entertainment, and other industries