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ATA warns vaccine mandate could do ‘harm’

Trade group suggests key issue is 100-employee cutoff dividing industry into 2 camps

Photo: ATA

The American Trucking Associations does not like the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate.

In a prepared statement released late Friday, ATA President and CEO Chris Spear said the mandate announced Thursday would “fall short” of the medical standard to “do no harm.”

The rule would require businesses with more than 100 workers to ensure that their employees are fully vaccinated or that unvaccinated workers produce a negative COVID test result weekly.

The statement also suggests the ATA may be hearing from members that the 100-worker cutoff creates a potential bifurcation that would give smaller companies not under the rule a significant advantage in hiring drivers. Some state trucking association officials said last week that some of their small members are expressing optimism that the mandate’s exemption of companies with fewer than 100 workers would aid their recruitment efforts.

“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 said. 

When a trade association or political official says something is “well-intentioned,” it’s a pretty good bet that what comes after is strong criticism. Spear did not disappoint. 

“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,” he said.

 As far as whether the ATA would take action against the mandate, Spear said the organization will study its next step. “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,” Spear said.

As all industries consider the rule, legal voices are starting to weigh in on what the vaccination mandate might mean. Unfortunately, as they will concede, they have little information to go on at this point.

In an article posted by the law firm of Seyfarth Shaw and written by attorney Craig Simonsen and several colleagues, the lawyers said the Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued in June regarding steps to be taken by health care employers — which did not mandate vaccination — was the first ETS issued in decades.

As Seyfarth Shaw said in its analysis, “no draft regulations have been released, and employers have no indication of compliance dates.”

Given that the requirements are under the provisions of an ETS, Seyfarth Shaw said normal rulemaking procedures are suspended.

And while the mandate may appear to have come out all of a sudden, the Seyfarth Shaw attorneys said OSHA held more than 40 “stakeholder meetings” on formulating the rule, going back about six months.

Looking over the steps the Biden administration has taken or is seeking to implement, Seyfarth Shaw said the White House’s approach has six prongs: “vaccinating the unvaccinated; further protecting the vaccinated; increasing testing and requiring masking; protecting our economic recovery; improving care for those with COVID-19; keeping schools safely open.” 

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  1. Diana

    The ATA’s regressive attitude explains why we early retired CDL qualified drivers are staying retired. Carriers, get all your workers vaccinated and we might come back and work peak season.

  2. Karen

    I don’t understand why it is required for all Americans to receive the “vacvine” and not the illegals crossing our borders in Texas (which by the way 37% tested positive for COVID) or the Afghan refugees. Clearly the White House, Congress and Senate are exempt from the mandate. SMH – STAND AND FIGHT WHAT THIS CORRUPT GOVERNMENT IS DOING. LOOK AT THE NUREMBERG TRAILS. NAXI GERMANY TRIED THIS AND WERE EXECUTED FOR CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY. HISTORY IS TRYING TO REPEAT ITSELF BUT THIS IS WRONG ON SO MANY LEVELS.

    Dig and do your research. Things are not as it appears. We are being lied too.

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John Kingston

John has an almost 40-year career covering commodities, most of the time at S&P Global Platts. He created the Dated Brent benchmark, now the world’s most important crude oil marker. He was Director of Oil, Director of News, the editor in chief of Platts Oilgram News and the “talking head” for Platts on numerous media outlets, including CNBC, Fox Business and Canada’s BNN. He covered metals before joining Platts and then spent a year running Platts’ metals business as well. He was awarded the International Association of Energy Economics Award for Excellence in Written Journalism in 2015. In 2010, he won two Corporate Achievement Awards from McGraw-Hill, an extremely rare accomplishment, one for steering coverage of the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster and the other for the launch of a public affairs television show, Platts Energy Week.