Trucking Stakeholders ‘Optimistic’ SCOTUS Will Halt Biden’s Vax-or-Testing Mandate
Washington D.C. — The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) is set to hear trucking stakeholders’ challenge to President Biden’s vaccination-or-testing mandate for large businesses.
On Friday, January 7, SCOTUS will hear oral arguments on whether to block the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) controversial Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) from being enforced until the matter can be fully litigated.
The ETS forces employers — with 100 employees or more — to require employees to be fully vaccinated by January 4, 2022, or ensure all unvaccinated employees wear a facial covering and provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test each week.
More than two dozen of the petitioners in the case — including the American Trucking Associations, Kentucky Trucking Association, Louisiana Motor Transport Association, Mississippi Trucking Association, Michigan Trucking Association, Ohio Trucking Association, Tennessee Trucking Association, and Texas Trucking Association — filed an appeal to SCOTUS on December 17, 2021, immediately following an opinion by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit upholding OSHA’s ETS.
John Esparza, president and CEO of the Texas Trucking Association (TXTA), tells Transportation Nation Network (TNN) he is “optimistic” SCOTUS will put a halt on the ETS.
“From what we’ve seen so far, they have worked quickly and I feel like they understand the significance of this issue,” he said.
Petitioners like the TXTA argue larger businesses are unfairly being forced to bear the cost burdens associated with the ETS — which OSHA estimates to be about $11,298 per affected entity, totaling a burden of $3 billion.
“When you start picking winners and losers… that’s a dangerous precedent. The Biden Administration doesn’t seemed concerned at all about what that does in the marketplace. It flies against every principle when it comes to free enterprise,” Esparza told TNN this week.
Conversely, the Biden Administration will argue the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act of 1970 gives OSHA the statutory authority to implement such a sweeping mandate on private employers especially given the “grave danger” posed by COVID-19.
If SCOTUS does side with President Biden, OSHA has indicated it will move forward on enforcing the ETS beginning January 10, but will not issue citations for noncompliance with the testing requirements before February 9, 2022, so long as an employer is “exercising reasonable, good faith efforts to come into compliance with the standard.”
Noncompliance violations deemed “serious” could result in penalties of up to $13,653 per instance.
If the violation is deemed “willful” or “repeated,” the maximum penalty could reach up to $136,532 per offense.
“I think the first thing we are going to answer is how are we going to enforce this and what will that look like? It’s going to be difficult to enforce,” Esparza commented.
Further, Esparza warned if SCOTUS does not block the ETS it will have a “tremendous impact” on the already stressed supply chain as many truckers could exit the industry or leave larger carriers subject to the mandate for smaller carriers which are not.
SCOTUS is expected to issue an opinion on whether or not to freeze enforcement of the ETS before January 10.
TransportationNation.com will continue to follow new developments closely.