A number of trucking groups led by the American Trucking Associations (ATA) have filed suit against the Biden Administration over a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for large employers.
On November 9, the ATA along with the Louisiana Motor Truck Association, the Mississippi Trucking Association and the Texas Trucking Association filed suit in the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals to block the implementation of a sweeping COVID-19 vaccine and testing requirement for workers.
Under a rule issued on November 5 by Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), private sector employers with 100 or more employees must require workers to show proof of full COVID-19 vaccination or submit to weekly testing, effective January 4. Unvaccinated workers would also be required to wear face masks starting December 5.
The ATA lawsuit argues that rule makers did not go through proper channels when issuing the vaccine mandate and asks for the mandate to be placed on hold until a full review can be completed.
“We are asking the court to stay implementation of the mandate because we believe the Occupational Safety and Health Administration did not satisfy the statutory requirements for issuing this Emergency Temporary Standard instead of going through the proper rulemaking process,” said Nicholas Geale, ATA vice president of workforce policy. “A stay pending full review is essential to ensure our members can continue to keep the supply chain moving without the enormous disruptions this unlawful ETS will cause the trucking industry and our nation’s consumers – including the 80% percent of American communities that depend exclusively on trucks for their needs.”
Other groups joining the ATA’s lawsuit include the Food Marketing Institute, the International Warehouse Logistics Association, the National Association of Convenience Stores, the National Retail Federation, the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors and the National Federation of Independent Business.
“To be very clear, ATA and its member companies support efforts to encourage all Americans to get vaccinated against COVID-19 – our trucks and drivers have been on the front line in fighting this pandemic since the beginning, moving personal protective equipment, test kits, the vaccine itself and much more as the country locked down, but we believe that the Biden Administration has overstepped its statutory authority in issuing this Emergency Temporary Standard,” said ATA President and CEO Chris Spear. “This standard arbitrarily picks winners and losers, and puts employers in an untenable position of forcing workers to choose between working and their private medical decisions, which is something that cannot be allowed.”
The ATA has also issued a statement indicating that they believe that most solo truck drivers are exempt from the vaccine/testing mandate because “the rule … exempts employees who exclusively work outdoors or remotely and have minimal contact with others indoors, and all indications thus far from the Department of Labor suggest this exemption does apply to the commercial truck driver population.”
The ATA says that if the vaccine mandate goes into effect, it could force as many as 37% of truck drivers to leave the trucking industry entirely at a time when labor issues and supply chain problems are already mounting.