American Trucking Associations President and CEO Chris Spear pushed back on President Joe Biden's plan requiring companies with more than 100 employees to mandate COVID vaccinations or require workers to undergo weekly testing.
"The first rule of any public health policy should be 'do no harm,'" he said. "Unfortunately, these latest mandates and the unintended consequences they’ll create fall short of that standard."
Biden has charged Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to develop the rule, which is expected to impact more than 80 million unvaccinated workers in private sector businesses with 100 employees or more. The agency will issue an Emergency Temporary Standard to implement it. Employers, per Biden's rule, will be required to offer employees paid time off to facilitate their vaccination and recovery from any side effects.
While ATA, its members and drivers remain committed to delivering life-saving COVID vaccines, Spear said, "these proposed requirements – however well-intentioned – threaten to cause further disruptions throughout the supply chain, impeding our nation’s COVID response efforts and putting the brakes on any economic revival."
In announcing the rule Thursday evening, Biden cited Tyson Foods, which employs more than 1,300 truck drivers, as a workforce that's already instituted a vaccine mandate.
According to a CCJ survey conducted this month, 91% of for-hire and private carrier respondents said they had not mandated that employees receive a COVID-19 vaccine and/or agree to undergo regular testing, and almost 60% said they didn’t plan to enact such a measure. Among for-hire carriers with 101 or more trucks – a size large enough to be swept up in Biden’s mandate – 93% thus far have yet to implement testing or vaccinations and 52% said they don’t plan to.
"If these mandates are designed to protect Americans, then why the discriminatory 100-employee threshold, picking winners and losers for both employees and employers," Spear asked. "As this proposal moves forward, ATA is examining all options and will choose a path that protects our industry so that it can continue delivering on behalf of our country."
The new rule still has to pass through the Federal Register so its effective date is unclear, and governors from various states – including Arkansas, Wyoming and Georgia – are already lining up in opposition.