Trucks transport goods on the Massachusetts Turnpike in Grafton, Massachusetts.
David L Ryan | Boston Globe | Getty Images
Most truck drivers are not covered by President Joe Biden’s Covid vaccine and testing requirements for private companies, according to Labor Secretary Marty Walsh, a win for an industry that has warned of potential strikes that would disrupt already strained supply chains.
“We’ve heard some pressure from truck drivers today. The ironic thing is that most truckers aren’t covered by this, because they’re driving a truck, they’re in a cab, and they’re by themselves, and they’re not going to be covered,” Walsh said in an interview with MSNBC’s Chris Hayes late on Monday. Thursday “.
Biden’s vaccine or testing authorization to work with 100 or more employees became an information impact Friday, after the Occupational Safety and Health Administration published the requirements in the federal registry. Companies have until January 4 to ensure their employees have the required vaccinations for a full vaccination. After this date, unvaccinated workers must submit a negative Covid test weekly to enter the workplace. Unvaccinated workers must wear masks in their workplaces from December 5.
However, the mandate exempts workers “who do not report to the workplace where there are other individuals such as co-workers or clients,” including truck drivers who are alone in their taxi or who do not interact with others at the point of departure or destination , according to the Ministry of Labour. People who work exclusively from home or outdoors are also exempt.
“All indications so far from the Department of Labor indicate that this exemption does not apply to commercial truck drivers,” Chris Speer, president and CEO of the American Trucking Associations, said in a statement Friday, hailing the rulings as a “huge victory for our association and industry.”
The vaccination and testing requirements will apply to “truck drivers who work in teams (ie two people in a taxi), or those who interact with people on buildings at their destinations or starting points,” a Department of Labor spokesperson told CNBC.
US trucking associations, which rejected mandates for White House officials in the Office of Management and Budget last month, warned that many drivers would quit rather than follow the rules, further disrupting national supplies during the holiday season at a time when the industry already had 80,000 drivers short.
“Given the shortage of truck drivers nationwide, it’s imperative that our industry has the relief it needs to maintain critical good mobility, including food, fuel, medicine and the vaccine itself,” Speer said Friday.
Despite the exceptions, Speer continues to criticize the mandate, accusing the Occupational Safety and Health Administration of “unwisely using extraordinary authority, and applying it across industries at an arbitrary threshold of 100 employees who do not take into account actual risks.”
“We are considering all resort options to ensure that every segment of the workforce in our industry is protected from the unintended consequences of this misguided mandate,” Speer said.
Senior management told CNBC on Friday that the concerns of some industry groups are unfounded, citing high rates of compliance among companies that have implemented vaccine requirements, such as United Airlines. The administration does not consider the January 4 deadline to be a precipice, the official said, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration will assist companies in implementing the requirements through sample plans, fact sheets and other outreach.