Trucking industry groups issued warnings after the Biden administration unveiled a COVID-19 vaccine rule targeting private businesses with 100 or more workers, saying the mandate would damage the industry.
“As we made clear in our comments to the administration prior to the rule’s publication, drivers spend the vast majority of their workday alone in the cab and outside,” American Trucking Associations President Chris Spear said in a statement last week after the rule was published in the Federal Register.
On Nov. 4, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) released guidance stipulating businesses with 100 or more employees be required to have their workers get vaccinated or provide weekly proof of COVID-19 tests. Businesses with contracts with the federal government, regardless of size, will have to mandate vaccines with no weekly testing option.
The deadline for the vaccine mandate for both federal contractors and private businesses was set for Jan. 4.
“While we complete our due diligence to confirm that fact through official channels, we see quotes from Labor Secretary [Marty] Walsh as an enormous victory for our association and industry,” Spear stated. “Given the nationwide shortage of truck drivers, it is vital that our industry has the relief it needs to keep critical goods moving, including food, fuel, medicine, and the vaccine itself.”
Similarly, the Truckload Carriers Association said in a statement that it hoped truckers would be exempt from the mandate because they spend most of their time in their vehicles and have little interaction with other people.
The group has “repeatedly called on the Administration to heed our warnings regarding this mandate’s impact on the already constrained supply chain, yet they chose to proceed with a disastrous mandate which will undoubtedly ensure the trucking industry loses a substantial number of drivers,” it stated.
Mark Allen, CEO of the International Foodservice Distributors Association, told The Washington Examiner that he was surprised there were no specific exemptions for truckers.
“If we lose even a fraction of our drivers, that has the potential to have a significant impact on our ability to service the customers,” he said.
Ahead of the OSHA rule being unveiled, the American Trucking Associations, Truckload Carriers Association, and others called for flexibility on the mandate and warned that 37 percent of drivers would leave their jobs, triggering widespread supply chain disruptions.
“We ask for flexibility for transportation and supply chain essential workers, particularly truck drivers who spend most of their time in their trucks and have minimal contact with colleagues and customers,” they wrote.