MIL-OSI USA: California Teamsters Demand Lawmakers Pass AV Local Control Bill SB 915

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Source: US Teamsters Union

Legislation Introduced as Waymo Expands Fleet to Los Angeles, San Francisco Suburbs

Press Contact: Matt McQuaid Phone: (202) 624-6877 Email: mmcquaid@teamster.org

(LOS ANGELES) – Teamsters and labor allies gathered at Los Angeles City Hall today in support of Senate Bill 915, which would give municipalities a greater ability to protect their communities by requiring autonomous vehicle (AV) companies to secure local approvals prior to starting operations. SB 915 is part of the CARS package that the Teamsters are advocating for in Sacramento. Full video of the event can be found here. 

“California has an opportunity to put safety first, and that starts with passing SB 915. It’s past time we give local governments a say in how this dangerous technology impacts their communities,” said Chris Griswold, Teamsters International Vice President At-Large and President of Teamsters Joint Council 42. “The Teamsters applaud Sen. Cortese for introducing SB 915 and urge state lawmakers to prioritize safety over Big Tech by passing this bill into law.”

SB 915 has strong bipartisan support. It was introduced on January 9, 2023, by State Senator Dave Cortese (D – San Jose), shortly after the California Dept. of Motor Vehicles (DMV) approved Waymo’s application to expand its fleet to the suburbs of Los Angeles and San Francisco. If approved by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), Waymo could also operate 24/7 in any weather conditions and on any roads, including highways. Despite robotaxis running over pedestrians, blocking first responders from their jobs and causing traffic pile-ups, the CPUC and DMV have refused to implement  significant AV safety measures.

“SB 915 makes sure that as we step into this new age of cars that drive themselves, we’re not taking any chances with public safety,” Cortese said. “Having served as Vice Mayor of San Jose and Board President of the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors, I’ve seen firsthand how local governments are capable and efficient in managing traffic and safety. Local communities will quickly create governance structures that protect the public while allowing for safe deployment of autonomous vehicles.” 

In addition to Cortese, Teamsters were joined by L.A. County Supervisor Kathryn Barger, L.A. City Councilmember Hugo Soto-Martinez, and representatives from the California Professional Firefighters Association, the California Labor Federation, the Los Angeles Labor Federation and the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment. Soto-Martinez announced that he is planning to introduce a resolution in support of SB 915.

“Our city should not be a test subject for the tech industry,” Soto-Martinez said. “SB 915 will help keep California roads safe, and put power back in the hands of local communities.”

“If there’s one thing we learned from the strikes in LA last year, it’s that multi-billion dollar conglomerates don’t have our best interest in mind,” said Lindsay Dougherty, Teamsters Western Region International Vice President and Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 399. “We can’t sit by and watch Big Tech write the rules for themselves, at the expense of our safety and our livelihoods. We need people who live in the communities to be the ones who decide whether we have driverless cars or trucks in our neighborhoods.”

The SB 915 rally marks the first major action this year where Teamsters, political leaders, and allied organizations came together to call for AV safety measures. The rally comes as San Francisco brings a lawsuit against the CPUC for allowing for the expansion of robotaxis in the city, and Cruise is investigated by the U.S. Dept. of Justice.

“SB 915 will give the people who are most affected by AV deployment – local governments, essential workers, first responders, and others the power to regulate driverless cars and trucks in a smart, pragmatic way that makes sense for their particular community,” said Quentin Booker, a sanitation truck driver and member of Teamsters Local 350. “It will democratize the regulatory process without taking any power away from state agencies and prioritize safety by holding AV operators to the same standards as human operators, which isn’t currently happening under the law.”

Founded in 1903, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents 1.3 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.

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