Truckers are at the heart of our country’s domestic supply chain. As such, they deserve to be treated fairly. This is why it’s important for truck drivers to understand the rights of Truckers.
Whether they drive by the mile or on a piece-rate basis, truck drivers must obey wage laws. Failure to do so could result in serious consequences for their employer.
Freedom of Speech
Many truckers come to Canada expecting to be able to exercise their human rights more freely than in other countries. But that hope may be misplaced. While some sectors of the population are pushing the narrative that the convoy is a peaceful and justifiable exercise of freedom of speech, other parts of the country are not as sympathetic.
The right to free speech and expression of opinion is fundamental for democracy, scientific progress, artistic expression, social justice, peace and our ability to live as true individuals. However, the right to freedom of speech doesn’t mean the government can’t regulate it when it violates the public interest or causes significant harm.
For example, the Canadian government has the right to prohibit a group of trucks from blocking streets or other important infrastructure when they are obstructing commerce and disrupting residents. Furthermore, the public has a right to expect that its leaders do not endorse violent extremism.
Freedom of the Press
The right to freedom of the press is a cornerstone of global democracy. Each year, a non-profit organization known as Freedom House ranks the level of freedom enjoyed by the media in every nation and significant disputed territory around the world.
The United States is ranked as one of the most free countries in the world. In addition to its own robust constitutional guarantees of freedom of speech and the press, America is a global leader in promoting democracy and press freedom across the globe.
However, the current climate for press freedom is bleak. Governments are increasingly targeting journalists and trying to blur the line between fact and fiction. As media consolidation continues to push small local news outlets out of business and into the hands of fewer companies, journalists are at risk. Amid these threats, the United States needs strong and independent media to continue leading the way for the rest of the world.
Freedom of Assembly
Freedom of assembly involves the right of individuals to gather and participate in meetings, rallies, events or protests. It is an essential part of democracy and is closely associated with freedom of speech. It is a fundamental human right and is guaranteed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the United Nations in 1948.
A government may only restrict free-assembly rights if there is a clear and present danger of unlawful conduct or imminent incitement to lawlessness. This standard was set in the Supreme Court case of De Jong v. Oregon in 1937.
Truckers have the right to assemble as they please, without interference from authorities. They also have the right to stop if their safety, or that of others on the road, requires it. For instance, truckers can refuse to operate their rigs when they think it is unsafe due to weather or mechanical problems. They can seek redress in civil court from employers that pressure them to ignore wage and hour laws.
Freedom of Religion
Many well-funded religious advocacy groups promote a different concept of “religious liberty,” which has little to do with the traditional idea that people should be free to follow their own beliefs without interference from law or government. This notion often entails favoring certain religious groups and perspectives and granting them special privileges and even public funds.
The case of Sikh truck drivers and their hair illustrates this point. The company required that they wear protective helmets when circulating outside their trucks at port terminals to deliver and pick up containers, a requirement that violated their right to freedom of religion.
The court ruled that the policy could be justified because trucking safety is a significant concern and the risks of head injuries from such circulation are considerable. This ruling should be good news for employers who are balancing workplace safety and other concerns, including freedom of religion. But we need to be careful not to create a hierarchy of rights where some are more inviolable than others.