Labor secretary says most truck drivers are exempt from Covid mandate, handing industry a win

Vehicles transfer items on the Massachusetts Turnpike in Grafton, MA.

David L. Ryan | Boston Globe | Getty Pictures

Most truckers should not lined by President Joe Biden’s Covid vaccine and testing necessities for personal companies, in keeping with Labor Secretary Marty Walsh, a win for an business that had warned of potential walkouts that might disrupt already strained provide chains.

“We have heard some pushback from truckers at the moment. The ironic factor is most truckers should not lined by this, as a result of they’re driving a truck, they’re in a cab, they’re by themselves, they would not be lined by this,” Walsh mentioned in an interview with MSNBC’s Chris Hayes late Thursday.

Biden’s vaccine or testing mandate for enterprise with 100 or extra staff went data impact on Friday, after the Occupational Security and Well being Administration revealed the necessities within the Federal Register. Companies have till Jan. 4 to make sure their staff have obtained the pictures required for full vaccination. After that date, employees who’re unvaccinated should submit a weekly destructive Covid check to enter the office. Unvaccinated employees should put on masks indoors at their workplaces beginning Dec. 5.

Nevertheless, the mandate exempts employees “who don’t report back to a office the place different people similar to coworkers or prospects are current,” together with truckers who’re alone of their cab or who should not interacting with others at their level of departure or locations, in keeping with the Division of Labor. Individuals who do business from home or solely outdoor are additionally exempt.

“All indications thus removed from the Division of Labor counsel this exemption does apply to the business truck driver inhabitants,” American Trucking Associations President and CEO Chris Spear mentioned on Friday in a press release, hailing the provisions “as an infinite victory for our affiliation and business.”

The vaccination and testing necessities would apply to “truck drivers who work in groups (i.e., two folks in a truck cab), or those that work together with folks in buildings at their locations or beginning factors,” a Labor Division spokesperson advised CNBC.

The American Trucking Associations, which pushed again in opposition to the mandates to White Home Officers on the Workplace of Administration and Price range final month, had warned many drivers would quit slightly comply with the foundations, additional disrupting the nationwide provide over the vacation season at a time when the business is already quick 80,000 drivers.

“Given the nationwide scarcity of truck drivers, it’s important that our business has the reduction it must maintain crucial good shifting, together with meals, gas, drugs and the vaccine itself,” Spear mentioned Friday.

Regardless of the exemptions, Spear nonetheless criticized the mandate, accusing OSHA of “utilizing extraordinary authority unwisely, making use of it throughout all industries at an arbitrary threshold of 100 staff that fails to consider precise dangers.”

“We’re weighing all choices of recourse to make sure each section of our business’s workforce is shielded from the unintended penalties of this misguided mandate,” Spear mentioned.

A senior administration advised CNBC on Friday that the fears of some business teams are unfounded, pointing to the excessive charges of compliance amongst corporations which have carried out vaccine necessities, similar to United Airways. The official mentioned the administration doesn’t view the Jan. 4 deadline as a cliff, and OSHA will help companies within the implementation of the necessities by pattern plans, factsheets and different types of outreach.

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