A group of national and state trade associations representing trucking, warehousing, and distribution have joined the fight against the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate for private employers, filing suit Wednesday in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.
The groups argue that the administration has overstepped its authority in issuing the emergency order, which will require employers with 100 or more employees to mandate Covid-19 vaccination or weekly testing. President Biden announced the mandate in September, under a proposed Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
Lawsuits against the ETS have been filed in courts across the country. The Fifth Circuit temporarily blocked the mandate last week in response to a suit from a group of businesses. The logistics industry suit adds to those challenges, saying the mandate could have devastating effects on the supply chain and the recovering economy.
“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,” Chris Spear, president and CEO of the American Trucking Associations (ATA), one of the groups leading the suit, said in a press statement. “We told the administration that this mandate, given the nature of our industry and makeup of our workforce, could have devastating impacts on the supply chain and the economy and they have, unfortunately, chosen to move forward despite those warnings. So we are now, regrettably, forced to seek to have this mandate overturned in court.”
ATA is joined in the suit by the Louisiana Motor Truck Association, the Mississippi Trucking Association, and the Texas Trucking Association along with the Food Marketing Institute, the International Warehouse Logistics Association (IWLA), the National Association of Convenience Stores, the National Retail Federation (NRF), the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors (NAW), and the National Federation of Independent Business.
Many of those groups had previously expressed concerns about the ETS. NRF pointed to the timing of the mandate and said it had asked the Biden administration to extend the enforcement deadline.
“We are deeply concerned about the timing for implementing the OSHA vaccine mandate during the most important season of the year for retailers and customers. Our members are already facing workforce shortages and supply chain disruptions, in addition to the legal and practical challenges of implementing this ETS during the holiday season,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said in a statement Wednesday. “The December 6 deadline to provide proof of employee vaccination status and the January 4 deadline for testing unvaccinated employees are both unworkable and virtually impossible. We have consistently and repeatedly communicated our concerns about the practical challenges of meeting those arbitrary targets. However, it appears that our only remaining course of action is to petition for judicial relief.”
The lawsuit argues that OSHA hasn’t satisfied the requirements for issuing the ETS and asks the court to halt the order pending a full review, according to ATA.
Victoria Kickham, an editor at large for Supply Chain Quarterly, started her career as a newspaper reporter in the Boston area before moving into B2B journalism. She has covered manufacturing, distribution and supply chain issues for a variety of publications in the industrial and electronics sectors, and now writes about everything from forklift batteries to omnichannel business trends for Supply Chain Quarterly's sister publication, DC Velocity.