Trucking’s Top Lobbyist Says Biden’s Vax Mandate Exempts Solo Truckers, Claims ‘Major Victory’
Washington D.C. — The trucking industry’s most influential lobbying group on Capitol Hill contends President Biden’s newly unveiled COVID-19 vaccination mandate for private businesses actually exempts some truckers.
In a statement released on Thursday shortly after the Biden Administration’s highly controversial vaccine mandate for large businesses was unveiled by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the American Trucking Associations (ATA) argued professional truck drivers should not, and ultimately, will not be impacted.
OSHA’s 490-page emergency temporary standard (ETS) rule 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.
The ETS provides exemptions to healthcare workers and federal contractors — already subject to existing vaccine mandates — as well as to employees of covered employers:
(1) Who do not report to a workplace where other individuals, such as coworkers or customers, are present; or
(2) While working from home; or
(3) Who work exclusively outdoors.
ATA quickly seized on the first and third exempted categories asserting those exemptions “should cover the commercial truck driver population.”
“Drivers spend the vast majority of their workday alone in the cab and outside,” ATA said. “The rule published today should not impact employees who work alone and have minimal contact with others indoors.”
The group indicated it was seeking further guidance from OSHA to “clarify and confirm” truckers will be exempted.
In a letter sent to members on Friday morning, ATA President Chris Spear informed he had “outstanding news” to share.
“We have received indications from senior Department of Labor officials that the exception for employees who exclusively work outdoors or remotely and have minimal contact with others indoors does exempt solo truck drivers from the mandate,” Spear wrote. “While we complete our due diligence to confirm this fact through official channels, this appears to be a major victory for ATA and our membership.”
In the weeks leading up to the release of OSHA’s ETS, ATA along with numerous mega carriers met with White House officials to lobby for an exemption for truckers due to both the essentiality and nature of the job.
“This is a result of our pressure campaign during the rulemaking process and all of your help as ATA drafted our comments and strategy,” Spear lauded.
However, he indicated the group is still considering “potential legal action to protect all segments of our workforce from this misguided mandate.”
“We continue to believe that OSHA is using an extraordinary authority unwisely and applying it across all industries at an arbitrary threshold of 100 employees in a way that fails to take into account the actual risks,” he stated.
TransportationNation.com will closely monitor new developments.