Uncle Sam wants a closer look at your 1099

Your status as an independent contractor will face greater scrunity in the coming years if the federal government has its way.

Several states are already strengthening their classification laws for workers. Now the Obama Adminstration would like give the movement more firepower. In his proposed 2011 budget is a $25 million “Misclassification Initiative.” It would allow the Department of Labor to hire more personnel to investigate classification cases, as well as seed grants for states to address the issue.

Already in Congress are committee bills (both the House and Senate) that would kill Section 530 of the Revenue Act of 1978 or the “safe harbor” provision of the tax law and offer stricter regulations for employers when hiring independent contractors.

Most recent was Sen. John Kerry’s (D-Mass) introduction of the Taxpayer Responsibility Accountability and Consistency Act of 2009  or S.2882 in December. This past summer Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.)  introduced H.R. 3408.

As a senator Obama introduced a similar bill, which died when the congressional slate was wiped clean. We could see elements of his bill and similar bills from the past, along with the current propopals, for a comprehensive overhaul of the independent contractor classification regulations.

For additional background information on the independent contractor debate, see our April 2009 cover story. And watch for more updates in Truckers News magazine and at www.truckersnews.com

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Join us for sleep apnea webinar

Don’t get caught asleep at the wheel when the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration moves forward with new health regulations, which will  include screening and/or testing for sleep apnea.

To bring you up to speed on sleep apnea, Truckers News will host a free one-hour webinar on Feb. 11 at 8 p.m. (CST) featuring Dr. Mark Berger.  The president and chief medical officer of Precision Pulmonary Diagnostics, will discuss how the disorder affects your health and how it could impact your CDL.

Berger has worked as consultant to large trucking fleets in developing sleep apnea programs. He has overseen the screening of nearly 15,000 commercial drivers and the diagnosis and treatment of sleep apnea in nearly 2,000 CDL holders.

Schneider National is sponsoring the webinar.

To register and see future webinars brought to you by the editors of Truckers News and Overdrive, click here.

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CSA 2010: The new sheriff in town

This month’s cover story “Maximum Exposure” in Truckers News deals with CSA 2010 — the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s new safety compliance program set to roll out this summer.

While it’s a total new way of doing business, CSA 2010 looks to work in favor of good drivers. I made this argument in my monthly “Editor’s Journal” column in the same issue.

While I expect to get letters from drivers who disagree with me, (and yes I know many feel they always get the short end of the stick when it comes to employer and/or more government regulations), I believe CSA 2010 will put more pressure on fleets to hire better drivers, train them better and offer more incentives to retain them. Bad actors will be forced out, but isn’t that what so many of you have been wanting?

It’s going to be a long and confusing process at times, but in the long run, it will give newer respect and credibility to professional drivers who have been asking for a better system. Agree or disagree, CSA 2010 is new sheriff in town. Stay tuned in the coming months for regular reports on the program and learn how to use it to your benefit.

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Blind Spot: Keeping one eye on the road just doesn’t cut it

A little reminder that trucking in the United States, despite the daily stresses brought on by dispatchers, traffic, shippers and law enforcement, is just not that bad when compared to some parts of the word.

Take this story, for example. According to the published report, a truck driver in China had his one of his eyes frozen shut after driving approximately 500 miles with his head sticking out the driver’s window. Why? Because he had replaced his shattered windshield with cardboard.

“I didn’t want to fall behind in my delivery schedule and I couldn’t afford a repair,” Sing Li, 24, reportedly told a court following his arrest in eastern China.

It’s hard to imagine that an American driver would have attempted such an unsafe delivery. Even if a U.S. trucker did, it’s highly unlikely he or she would have made it more than a few miles without being pulled over.

Trucking in other parts of the world is often far different than here. This month, Truckers News’ cover story “Trucking Around the World” looks at transportation in various areas of the globe.

It may leave you feeling a little more thankful for your daily grind.

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‘Trusted’ label puts target on backs of some NAFTA carriers

Apparently being a trusted carrier and a secure carrier may not always be the same thing. At least not when it comes to crossing the U.S.-Mexican border.

A recent Associated Press story revealed that drug dealers are targeting Mexican trucking companies that use a Free and Secure Trade Lane, or FAST Lane, crossing into the United States. 

Some drivers for companies that are a part of the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism, or C-TPAT, have allegedly felt pressured by drug gangs to help smuggle contraband. Drug dealers offer plata-or-plomo, which is Spanish for silver or lead. In other words, accept a bribe or take a bullet.

Part of the problem is while participants in the program are kept secret by the authorities, carriers often advertise their participation in the program in the interest of generating more business.

Trade between the United States and Mexico is vital to both countries’ economies. So is security. Both countries must do everything necessary to address this issue immediately.

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TN health hero featured in Runner’s World

Runner2[1] Truckers News 2008 Health Hero of the Year Jeff Clark is receiving international recognition with a profile on him in the December issue of Runner’s World magazine.

Clark, an avid runner and marathoner, was first featured in our March 2008 issue as part of the Fit for the Road series. He was named the 2008 Health Hero of the Year for his dedication to helping other truckers get fit as well as his personal achievements.

The Runner’s World article quotes Truckers News contributing editor Carolyn Magner (Mason) and references Truckers News’ continuing program to help drivers live healthier lifestyles.

According to Runner’s World editors, Clark is the first trucker ever be profiled in the magazine.

In 2008, American Business Media named  the 2007 Fit for the Road series as a Jesse H. Neal finalist in its annual editorial awards.

Truckers News will  expand its Fit for the Road program in 2010 with both print articles and a new, regularly updated website. In addition we will have health-related webinars, tradeshow events and other offerings for driver looking to get fit. Be sure to check us out and follow us to better health.

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The HOS shuffle needs to end

Looks like the feds plan to rewrite the hours-of-service rule for what seems like the 10th time this decade.

Of course, that’s not exactly the case, but between all the lawsuits and all the tweaking, it is getting old.

This reconsideration looks to have a major impact on trucking with the possibile elimination of the 11th hour of driving and the possible end of the 34-hour reset period.

Regardless of what the new rule turns out to be, it needs to be settled once and for all. Truckers deserve better than the constant uncertainity that has become the norm in the past few years.

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