Trucking news and briefs for Tuesday, Dec. 21, 2021:
Vaccine mandate reinstated, but headed to Supreme Court
The American Trucking Associations was among 27 business groups to file an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court on Dec. 17 after the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals lifted the stay on the Biden Administration’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for employers with 100 or more employees.
The mandate has been on hold since Nov. 6, when the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals granted an emergency motion to temporarily stay the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s rule’s enforcement.
The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati ruled Dec. 17 that, contrary to the Fifth Circuit’s opinion, OSHA does have the authority to require such a mandate. The court cited provisions in the Occupational Safety and Health Act that established OSHA that reinforce OSHA’s authority to regulate infectious diseases and viruses.
“Based on the OSH Act’s language, structure, and Congressional approval, OSHA has long asserted its authority to protect workers against infectious diseases,” the court ruled. “…Given OSHA’s clear and exercised authority to regulate viruses, OSHA necessarily has the authority to regulate infectious diseases that are not unique to the workplace. Indeed, no virus – HIV, HBV, COVID-19 – is unique to the workplace and affects only workers. And courts have upheld OSHA’s authority to regulate hazards that co-exist in the workplace and in society but are at heightened risk in the workplace.”
The three-judge Sixth Circuit panel voted 2-1 to reverse the stay. The one dissenting judge, Judge Joan L. Larsen, agreed with the Fifth Circuit’s opinion that OSHA did not have authority to issue the mandate.
In response to the stay being lifted, OSHA said it would give some leniency in enforcement of the mandate by not issuing citations for noncompliance with any portions of the mandate before Jan. 10, and not issuing citations for noncompliance with the standard’s testing requirements before Feb. 9, “so long as an employer is exercising reasonable, good faith efforts to come into compliance with the standard. OSHA will work closely with the regulated community to provide compliance assistance.”
The American Trucking Associations on Monday said it has taken its legal challenge to the mandate to the Supreme Court.
“It’s evident that OSHA overstepped its statutory authority with this Emergency Temporary Standard, so make no mistake: 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,” said ATA President and CEO Chris Spear. “That includes the movement of food, fuel, medical supplies, test kits, and the vaccine itself.”
Forward Air implements significant independent contractor raise
Forward Air Corporation announced last week it is implementing its largest ever rate-per-mile increase to its independent contractor fleet within its less-than-truckload and Truckload divisions.
Independent contractor fleets and independent contractor teams and solo drivers will receive a 15 cents per mile increase, the company says.
This announcement represents the largest per-mile increase in company history and is the third increase announced this year and the sixth in the last five years. With this 15 cpm increase, Forward Air anticipates team independent contractors could earn in excess of $497,250 annually/$41,437 monthly and solo independent contractors to have the ability to earn in excess of $203,500 annually/$16,958 monthly.
“Our business continues to experience record volume growth,” said Tom Schmitt, Chairman, President and CEO of Forward. “We remain focused on our commitment to delivering our customers’ freight with precision execution. We believe this rate increase will allow us to secure freight capacity by retaining our existing fleet and attracting new independent contractors and fleet owners to become business partners with the Forward team. This rate increase recognizes the dedication to excellence, precision execution, and the safety-first mentality displayed by Forward’s independent contractors.”
Potential steering issue prompts Western Star recall
Daimler Trucks North America is recalling approximately 21 model year 2021-2022 Western Star 4900 trucks for a potential steering issue, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration documents.
In the affected trucks, the steering shaft pinch bolt may not have been properly tightened, allowing the steering shaft to separate from the steering gear. If this were to occur, there could be a loss of steering control.
Dealers will inspect and tighten the pinch bolt as necessary, free of charge. Owners can contact DTNA customer service at 1-800-547-0712 with recall number FL-914. NHTSA’s recall number is 21V-946.
Great Dane recalls 3,200 trailers for wheel hub problem
Great Dane Trailers is recalling certain 2022 Champion dry van and Everest refrigerated trailers in which the wheel hubs may have an insufficient amount of lubrication, which could cause the hub bearings to fail.
Hub bearing failure could cause the wheel hub assembly to detach, causing a loss of stability and control, creating a road hazard, and increasing the risk of a crash.
Great Dane will work with SAF Holland, the wheel hub supplier, to inspect the wheel hubs and add the proper amount of lubricant as necessary, free of charge. Owners can contact Great Dane customer service at 1-877-369-3493. NHTSA’s recall number is 21V-943.