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3/14/2005

Wal-Mart Proposes ‘Sweatshop on Wheels’

A hailstorm of pressure from transportation unions, lawmakers and highway safety advocates combined to knock down a proposal that would have extended a trucker’s workday to 16 hours, legislation described by one opponent as a “sweatshop on wheels amendment.”

The proposed amendment, offered by Rep. John Boozman (R-AK) and backed by giant retailer Wal-Mart, would allow employers to push truckers to remain on the road for as long as 16 hours provided the driver took an unpaid two-hour break. Current rules limit driver’s workdays to 11 consecutive hours.

“The last thing we need is for tired truckers to become even more fatigued and threaten the safety of those around them on the roads,” said Joan Claybrook, president of the Public Citizen, who explained the bill could create a workday for drivers that began at 8 a.m. and did not end until midnight.

Arkansas Republican Rep. Boozman, whose district includes Wal-Mart headquarters, withdrew his amendment to the highway and transit bill (H.R. 3) in the face of widespread criticism.

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