Plans to require vaccines or weekly Covid-19 tests at U.S. businesses with more than 100 employees continue to march forward in the wake of a new court ruling.
The Sixth Circuit court has sided with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in a split decision regarding a stay imposed by the Fifth Circuit. Groups including the American Trucking Associations (ATA) have been arguing against the mandates.
Under the Emergency Temporary Standard, employees of affected companies will need to be vaccinated or wear a protective face covering and take weekly tests. Employers could decision on the policy that best fits their operations.
“We are of course disappointed by the panel’s decision, potentially throwing our industry into chaos at our busiest time of the year – to say nothing of the effects on other businesses, employees and consumers more broadly,” ATA president Chris Spear said in a notice to members.
The ATA will now appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court to reinstate the stay.
“ATA will not stop fighting this misguided policy until our members and industry are fully relieved from its harmful impact on our ability to keep America’s supply chain moving,” he said.
“This mandate threatens to further disrupt our industry and its essential role in the nation’s COVID response efforts, and we will fight it until it’s defeated through any and all means necessary.”
Responding to the ruling, OSHA will exercise discretion when enforcing the compliance dates, the ATA said. No requirements under the Emergency Temporary Standard will be issued before Jan. 10, and testing requirements will not be enforced until Feb. 9 as long as employers are showing good faith to comply.
A Canadian mandate specific to truck drivers crossing the Canada-U.S. border is to take effect Jan. 15. A similar U.S. mandate for border-crossing drivers is widely expected to be effective Jan. 22.
In a Dec. 10 letter, 14 U.S. Senators have called on U.S. President Joe Biden to work with the Canadian government to delay the border-related mandates.
“Despite the good intentions underpinning this action, we fear that the imposition of vaccination mandates as a requirement to cross the land border will exacerbate the existing challenges facing our freight networks and supply chain, and could further fuel inflation and rising prices on top of what Americans are already seeing,” they said.
“While both countries intend to impose vaccine requirements on foreign truck drivers, neither country has imposed such a requirement on solo truck drivers who operate domestically. Since the onset of the pandemic, drivers have traversed the vast expanses of the U.S. and Canada safely, with a low Covid-19 transmission rate, due to the fact that commercial truck drivers spend the majority of their workday alone in the cab and outside.”
Canadian regulators, however, have also announced plans to introduce vaccine mandates for all federally regulated carriers, including those that cross provincial borders. The road transportation sector has to date been exempted from mandates that apply to other transportation modes.
- This article has been updated to include a reference to the Dec. 10 letter.
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