Bill would exempt truckers from COVID-19 vaccine mandate

October 27, 2021

Mark Schremmer

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A bill introduced by Sen. Marsha Blackburn and supported by the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association would exempt truck drivers and other essential workers from a sweeping COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

Blackburn, R-Tenn., introduced the Keeping Our COVID-19 Heroes Employed Act, which would exempt essential workers from vaccine mandates. The bill defines an essential worker as anyone who government bodies deemed “essential” or was exempt from any restrictions during the response to the pandemic.

“OOIDA thanks Sen. Blackburn for introducing legislation that will ensure vaccination remains a personal decision for truckers,” OOIDA President Todd Spencer said. “Throughout the pandemic, we provided our members with the most up-to-date information on vaccines but have always maintained that vaccination is a personal choice just like any health decision.”

The Association said truckers already are confronted with an excessive amount of regulations and mandates.

“Trucking is one of the most regulated professions in the country, and the ongoing supply chain crisis has exposed the unpaid wait times and other difficult working conditions drivers are often forced to endure,” Spencer said. “These are just a couple of the reasons the industry has long suffered from an excessively high driver turnover problem. Congress must ensure that the industry can better attract and retain drivers who have always been critical in keeping the supply chain moving. This legislation will help accomplish that.”

Vaccine mandates

In September, President Joe Biden announced sweeping COVID-19 vaccination mandates. The measures included a vaccine mandate for all federal workers and contractors, as well as requirements that companies with 100 or more employees mandate the vaccine or regular testing. Guidance for the federal contractor rule was issued in late September. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is expected to release the 100 or more employee rule soon.

Blackburn was joined by Sens. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla.; Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo.; Bill Hagerty, R-Tenn.; Mike Braun, R-Ind.; Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala.; and Ron Johnson, R-Wis., to introduce the bill.

“Our essential workers are true heroes,” Blackburn said. “For over 18 months, essential workers showed up to serve and protect their communities.”

The bill has been endorsed by several groups, including OOIDA, the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, National Border Patrol Council, Chicago Fraternal Order of Police, the National Sheriffs’ Association, and National Association of Small Trucking Companies. LL

Mark Schremmer, senior editor, joined Land Line in 2015. An award-winning journalist and former assistant news editor at The Topeka Capital-Journal, he brings fresh ideas, solid reporting skills, and more than two decades of journalism experience to our staff.