Vaccine mandate effective Jan. 4; no exemptions for trucking industry, drivers

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Updated Nov 5, 2021
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Appeals by trucking industry interests to exempt drivers from mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations appear to have fallen on deaf ears in Washington, D.C. as publication in the Federal Register of the proposed mandates takes place Friday, Nov. 5.

The Biden Administration plan requires private sector businesses with 100 employees or more "ensure each of their workers is fully vaccinated or tests (negatively) for COVID-19 on at least a weekly basis." It also requires employers to provide paid time off for employees to get vaccinated and ensure all unvaccinated workers wear face masks in the workplace.

Trucking organizations have been outspoken in their opposition to the mandate, claiming it would exacerbate existing supply chain problems and prompt drivers to leave the industry or seek employment at smaller carriers not covered by the mandate. Likewise, many individual drivers have said they would quit or make their employer fire them before they would get vaccinated.

The Truckload Carriers Association today called the vaccination requirement "disastrous," and said it "will undoubtedly ensure the trucking industry loses a substantial number of drivers. These are the drivers the country is relying upon to deliver food, fuel, and presents for the upcoming holiday season, yet our national leadership has decided these needs must go unmet." 

TCA also said its opposition is not politically motivated, adding, "President Biden cannot call on trucking to 'work harder' when his policies are cutting us off at the knees and depriving us of the workforce we need."

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The association said it is still reviewing the details of the plan, which will be overseen by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. It also says it "will pursue every option to fight the imposition of this mandate on our members."

Businesses, trade associations, non-profits and some state governments have said they will file suit to block the vaccination mandate. TCA has urged its members to contact lawmakers with their comments on the mandates.

In a fact sheet issued today, the White House said that 70% of American adults are vaccinated, but "more vaccinations are needed to save lives, protect the economy, and accelerate the path out of the pandemic."

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The American Trucking Association has also voiced its opposition to the vaccination mandates.

""The first rule of any public health policy should be 'do no harm,'" said ATA President Chris Spear In a statement Sept. 10,, "Unfortunately, these latest mandates and the unintended consequences they’ll create fall short of that standard.  

"ATA, its members and our drivers remain committed to delivering life-saving COVID vaccines, but these proposed requirements—however well-intentioned—threaten to cause further disruptions throughout the supply chain, impeding our nation’s COVID response efforts and putting the brakes on any economic revival.  

"If these mandates are designed to protect Americans, then why the discriminatory 100-employee threshold, picking winners and losers for both employees and employers?"

To date, some 46.2 million COVID-19 cases have been reported in the U.S., and over 750,000 Americans have died from the disease.