A Tennessee Senator introduced legislation that would exempt essential workers — including truck drivers — from federal COVID-19 vaccine requirements.
The “Keeping Our COVID-19 Heroes Employed Act” was introduced on Tuesday by Republican Sen. Marsha Blackburn.
The bill provides for an exemption from COVID-19 vaccine requirements for any worker who was deemed essential during the response to the COVID–19 pandemic.
“No American — especially not our nation’s COVID-19 heroes — should face the ultimatum of a jab versus being fired, Blackburn said.
“Our essential workers are true heroes,” said Senator Blackburn. “For over 18 months, essential workers showed up to serve and protect their communities. Businesses across the country are desperate for workers and we are in the midst of a supply chain crisis. There are more than 10.4 million open jobs across the country, and now President Biden wants to fire even more workers. Getting vaccinated is a choice that should be made between a patient and their doctor. No one should be forced by Joe Biden to be fired or get jabbed.”
“OOIDA thanks Senator Blackburn for introducing legislation that will ensure vaccination remains a personal decision for truckers. Throughout the pandemic, we have provided our members with the most up-to-date information on vaccines but have always maintained that vaccination is a personal choice just like any health decision. Trucking is already one of the most-regulated professions in the country, and the ongoing supply chain crisis has exposed the unpaid wait times and other difficult working conditions drivers are often forced to endure. These are just a couple of the reasons the industry has long suffered from an excessively high driver turnover problem. Congress must ensure that the industry can better attract and retain drivers who have always been critical in keeping the supply chain moving. This legislation will help accomplish that,” said President and CEO of Owner–Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA), Todd Spencer.
On September 9, President Joe Biden announced a series of sweeping actions designed to fight back against COVID-19 by increasing employment-related vaccination requirements. The White House executive order directed the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to introduce new regulations that will force private sector companies that employ more than 100 workers to require either proof of vaccination or weekly testing. Companies that fail to comply could face penalties of $14,000 per violation.
The vaccine mandate is currently under review in the White House Office of Management and Budget.
A recent CDLLife poll found that more than 80% of trucking company employees reported that their employer has not officially acknowledged the vaccine mandate.
The American Trucking Associations (ATA) recently issued a warning suggesting that Biden’s vaccine mandate could force thousands of drivers out of the industry at a time when supply chain woes are a cause for growing concern. “The U.S. is already facing unprecedented supply chain disruptions and delays due to many factors, including significant labor shortages, production shutdowns, a shortage of raw materials, and pent-up consumer demand. Our data shows that a vaccine mandate may very well further cripple the supply chain throughout the country by forcing up to 13% of drivers to leave the industry entirely,” the ATA said.