The Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced on November 4th an emergency temporary standard (ETS) regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. Truckers are not going to be pleased.
There are five major points to the ETS.
- The following rules apply to businesses that are not exempt and have 100 or more employees.
- Employees of these companies must be fully vaccinated by January 4th, 2022.
- If an employee is not fully vaccinated by December 5th, they are required to do weekly COVID-19 testing and wear masks at the workplace until they are fully vaccinated (this may even include a trucker in his cab–his workplace–but we are not sure).
- Employers must provide paid time off for the employee to get vaccinated, at the company’s expense. The vaccine itself, as per usual, is paid for by the federal government.
- The ETS supersedes any law that contradicts it on the state or local level.
Effect on Trucking
The number of unvaccinated truckers that said they would sooner move to a smaller company or quit trucking altogether is not exactly known, but estimates put the number at a minimum of 30 percent. This would put even more pressure on a supply chain that is currently finding it difficult to move things around and is causing shortages in everything from rubber to printer ink nationwide.
Earlier the industry, with over 90 different organizations, sent an open letter to the federal government with suggestions on how to ease supply chain woes. One of the suggestions was exemption from any vaccine mandates. That plea has fallen on deaf ears, and as such some trucking organizations are planning to take legal action.
“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,” Truckload Carriers Association said in an email alert. “Be assured that TCA will pursue every option to fight the imposition of this mandate on our members.”
It appears as though the battle in the trucking industry over vaccine mandates has only just begun.
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