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To most people, owning your own business is a way to become successful. For me, it was a mission – a lifeline to a brighter future for myself and my daughters.
That journey began in California more than three decades ago, when I dropped my nursing studies to get a commercial driver’s license. As a woman, the thought of working in a male-dominated field was intimidating at first. But those initial fears soon gave way to the rewarding opportunities that a career in trucking offers.
The change was unexpected. As a single parent raising four daughters, I needed both flexibility and the opportunity to provide for them. Which is why, in 2015, I partnered with Prime Inc. to become an independent contractor.
Being an independent truck driver empowered me to run my truck as my own small business. I loved traveling on the job, the freedom to be my own boss, and the option to take my children with me on long hauls when I could.
Making good money while seeing the country, I built a wonderful life back in California – a place I was proud to call home. I was living my version of the American Dream. But lawmakers in Sacramento soon had a very different plan for me.
When the state legislature began debating Assembly Bill 5 – a law effectively banning independent contractors in trucking – my dream was put in jeopardy. AB5 would have demoted me from small business owner to company employee – affecting my hours, benefits, flexibility and overall ability to earn on my own terms. It would effectively kill the dream I worked so hard to build over so many years.
So, for the second time in my professional life, I knew it was time to change gears. I packed up and left California. I could not afford to lose my business and the livelihood it provided my family. In 2020, I moved to Springfield, Missouri, where I continued as an independent contractor with Prime Inc.
I often reflect on where my dream started and what could have been. As a Black woman, I built a successful business and created a profitable path in an industry that had once belonged almost exclusively to men. Then the California legislature stepped in and took that all away from me. They forced me to say goodbye to the place I once called home for decades.
I’m blessed to have successfully moved to a more business-friendly state, but not everyone has the resources to do so. Since AB5 has gone into effect, thousands of more independent truckers in California have been thrust into legal limbo. Lawmakers have given other industries a carveout from AB5, but they continue to deny truck drivers that same opportunity.
Over my 31 years in trucking, I’ve driven more than 2.1 million accident-free miles, delivering the goods that Americans depend on every day. I’m proud to serve as an industry ambassador, working in my free time mentoring women truck drivers and supporting this vibrant, growing community.
Those like us who choose to own our business should be supported as we pursue our dreams. It’s unfortunate California lawmakers see fit to tell us we only belong as company employees. Despite those obstacles, I can still take to the road and pursue my dreams elsewhere.