A trucking group has issued dire warnings about the nation’s supply chain after a newly released draft of a vaccine rule contains no exemption for members of the trucking industry.

On Thursday, November 4, an Interim Final Rule dealing with sweeping new private sector vaccine requirements was shared with the public ahead of a November 5 publication in the Federal Register.

Under the rule, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is issuing an emergency temporary standard (ETS) for private sector employers with 100 or more employees. Under that rule, workers must show proof of full COVID-19 vaccination or submit to weekly testing, effective January 4. Employers are not required to pay for testing in most circumstances.

The rule is expected to impact 84 million U.S. employees.

Also under the rule, all unvaccinated workers must begin wearing masks by December 5. Employers are not required to provide or pay for masks in most cases under the new rule.

There is no exemption in the rule for members of the trucking industry in spite of the fact that numerous trucking groups have warned that the requirement could have nightmarish consequences for the nation’s supply chain.

The American Trucking Associations (ATA) estimated that the vaccine mandate could force as many as 37% of truck drivers to leave the trucking industry entirely.

Following the November 4 rule publication, the Truckload Carriers Association (TCA) issued a statement expressing disappointment and growing concern with the lack of an exemption for trucking in the vaccine mandate.

From the TCA:

TCA 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. 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’s opposition to the mandate is not political – it is simply driven by the facts presented by our industry and our knowledge of the 24/7 efforts already being contributed by our diligent workforce. 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. Be assured that TCA will pursue every option to fight the imposition of this mandate on our members.

The TCA points out that there are already multiple legal challenges to the large employer vaccine mandate and encourages group members to reach out to their representatives to voice their concerns.

In late October, Republican Sen. Marsha Blackburn introduced legislation providing an exemption from COVID-19 vaccine requirements for any worker who was deemed essential during the response to the COVID–19 pandemic.

A CDLLife poll conducted in October 2021 found that only 7.9% of trucking companies had plans to enforce the vaccine mandate.

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