Labor minister says most truck drivers are exempt

Most truckers are not covered by President Joe Biden’s Covid vaccine and testing requirements for private companies, according to Labor Secretary Marty Walsh, a win for an industry that warned of possible work stoppages that would disrupt already tight supply chains.

“We heard some setbacks from truckers today. The ironic thing is that most truckers are not affected because they drive a truck, they sit in a taxi, they are alone, they would not be covered.” by doing this, “Walsh said late Thursday in an interview with MSNBC’s Chris Hayes.

Biden’s vaccine or test mandate for companies with 100 or more employees went into effect on Friday after the labor protection agency published the requirements in the federal register. Companies have until January 4th to ensure their employees have the vaccinations required for full vaccination. After this date, workers who have not been vaccinated will have to present a weekly negative Covid test in order to enter the workplace. Unvaccinated workers will be required to wear masks in their indoor workplaces from December 5th.

Trucks move goods on the Massachusetts Turnpike in Grafton, MA.

David L. Ryan | Boston Globe | Getty Images

However, the mandate exempts employees “who do not report to a workplace where other people such as colleagues or customers are present”, including truckers who sit alone in their cabin or who do not interact with others at their place of departure or destination to the employment office . Also excluded are people who work from home or exclusively outdoors.

“All of the Ministry of Labor’s indications so far indicate that this exemption applies to commercial truck drivers,” said Chris Spear, President and CEO of the American Trucking Association, in a statement on Friday, hailing the regulations “as a tremendous victory for ours Association and “Industry.”

The vaccination and testing requirements would apply to “truck drivers who work in teams (i.e. two people in a truck cab) or those who interact with people in buildings at their destinations or starting points,” a Labor Department spokesman told CNBC .

The American Trucking Associations, which last month turned down mandates from White House officials in the Office of Management and Budget, had warned many drivers that they would rather quit than stick to the rules of what the national supply chain is doing at the same time the Christmas season continued to bother us when the industry is already short of 80,000 drivers.

“Given the nationwide shortage of truck drivers, it’s important that our industry has the relief it needs to keep critical goods moving, including food, fuel, medicines and the vaccine itself,” Spear said Friday.

Despite the exceptions, Spear still criticized the mandate, accusing OSHA of “improperly using extraordinary authority and applying it in all industries with an arbitrary threshold of 100 employees that does not take into account the real risks.”

“We are evaluating all possible remedies to ensure that every segment of our industry’s workforce is protected from the unintended consequences of this misguided mandate,” said Spear.

A senior administration told CNBC on Friday that fears from some industry groups were unfounded, citing the high compliance rates at companies that have implemented vaccine requirements, such as United Airlines. The official said the administration does not see the January 4 deadline as a cliff and OSHA will help companies implement the requirements through sample plans, fact sheets and other forms of contact.

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