Labor Secretary says vaccine rule won’t apply to most truckers

November 8, 2021

Mark Schremmer

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The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s rule mandating the COVID-19 vaccine or mandatory testing for companies with 100 or more employees was released last week. However, the rule is already seeing legal challenges, and the U.S. labor secretary says the rule won’t apply to most truck drivers.

OSHA’s emergency temporary standard was published Nov. 5 in the Federal Register. The rule requires each worker who is not fully vaccinated to be tested for COVID-19 at least weekly. The first major deadline of the rule is set for Dec. 6.

A federal appeals court in Louisiana on Nov. 6 temporarily blocked the mandate for large businesses. Opponents argue that the rule is unconstitutional.

Even if the rule is deemed constitutional, it should apply only to a small percentage of truck drivers. According to the OOIDA Foundation, 96% of motor carriers have no more than 25 drivers, meaning most trucking companies will have fewer than 100 employees.

For the remaining company drivers at large fleets, Labor Secretary Marty Walsh said the majority would be exempt.

“We’ve heard some pushback from truckers today,” Walsh told MSNBC last week. “The ironic thing is most truckers are not covered by this because they’re driving a truck. They’re in a cab. They’re by themselves. They wouldn’t be covered by this.”

The rule, however, would require team drivers at large fleets to either get the COVID-19 vaccine or be tested weekly.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association opposes attempts to mandate the vaccine and lent support to a recent bill from Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., that would exempt essential workers from vaccine mandates.

“Most OOIDA members are small businesses, and this order will not apply to them,” Jay Grimes, OOIDA’s director of federal affairs, said. “Based on initial reactions from the Department of Labor, the mandate is clearly not intended for drivers who spend most of their time working by themselves. We anticipate there will be various legal challenges that might prevent the mandate from ever taking effect and will continue monitoring any developments. OOIDA has always maintained that vaccination is a personal choice, just like any health decision.” LL

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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.