Trucking associations take vaccine mandate fight to court

The American Trucking Associations (ATA) may be confident that “solo drivers” are exempt from a coming vaccine mandate for big businesses – but it’s still joining a lawsuit to fight the rule that takes hold Jan. 4.

The ATA, Louisiana Motor Truck Association, Mississippi Trucking Association, and Texas Trucking Association are among groups challenging the federal plans that will apply to businesses with more than 100 employees.

“We believe that the Biden Administration has overstepped its statutory authority in issuing this Emergency Temporary Standard,” said ATA president and CEO Chris Spear, stressing that members still support efforts to encourage Americans to be vaccinated.

“This standard arbitrarily picks winners and losers, and puts employers in an untenable position of forcing workers to choose between working and their private medical decisions, which is something that cannot be allowed.”

The lawsuit comes just days after the ATA said it has been assured by senior U.S. Department of Labor officials that solo truck drivers will be exempt from the mandate.

The ATA had previously estimated that the mandated vaccines or weekly Covid-19 tests for the larger employers could see affected carriers lose 74% of their unvaccinated employees or 34% of their driving workforces as unvaccinated truckers opt to leave for smaller carriers, retire or resign.

It even pointed directly at Canada in making its argument that truck drivers should be exempted from such a rule. On this side of the border, federally regulated trucking companies are not included in a mandate that requires Canada’s air, rail and marine employers to establish vaccination policies.

The challenge has been filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. Other groups joining the lawsuit include the Food Marketing Institute, the International Warehouse Logistics Association, the National Association of Convenience Stores, the National Retail Federation, the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors and the National Federation of Independent Business.

In a separate mandate, the U.S. also plans to require border-bound truck drivers to be vaccinated by January. The Canadian Trucking Alliance estimates that as many as 38,000 truckers could abandon border-crossing work because of it.