That announcement from President Joe Biden about federal vaccine mandates that would affect nearly all workers in the private sector is about as solid as a slice of swiss cheese. Every time we think we’re getting our heads wrapped around it, more changes or exceptions seem to appear. The latest is being hailed by representatives of the trucking industry as “a huge victory” because the Department of Labor has now decided that most truckers will not fall under the mandate. And if they do, they will have the option of submitting weekly negative COVID tests instead of getting the shot if they wish. So what makes truck drivers so special? Read on and find out, but it’s probably not any of the obvious answers that might jump to mind. (Yahoo News)
Truckers hailed victory on Friday after Labor Secretary Marty Walsh said in an interview that most drivers will be exempt from President Biden’s vaccine and testing mandate, CNBC reported.
Walsh’s comments came in response to criticism from the trucking industry against a policy announced by The White House on Thursday that will require millions of workers to be fully vaccinated or get tested regularly. The new rules are set to come into effect on January 4.
The rule applies to the federal government workforce and anybody working for a company with more than 100 employees, The White House said.
If we were living in some sort of alternate reality where sane, sensible debates drive government policy, you could probably see how exempting long-haul truckers from any vaccine mandate would make sense. The vast majority of them drive by themselves, sitting alone in the cab of their truck. There’s usually nobody else there to infect or be infected by. The only thing stupider than making them get vaccinated would be to make them wear masks while driving.
Under the Labor Department’s announcement, that seems to be the reality they are dealing with. Not all truckers will be exempt. Those who drive with a partner in the cab or who have to regularly interact with other people while loading and unloading will still fall under the mandate. There’s no word about the waitresses at the truck stops they frequent, particularly if the joint has fewer than 100 employees.
Of course, that’s not the real reason for this exemption and I’m guessing that most people know this. We’re in the middle of a very severe supply chain crisis right now and it’s being almost entirely driven by a shortage of qualified truck drivers with CDLs. Goods are being tied up for weeks at our nation’s ports and at ground-based points of distribution. This is leading to higher prices and empty shelves, just as the holidays are approaching. Joe Biden doesn’t want to be seen as the cause of even one truck driver leaving the business at a time like that, so the truckers get a free pass.
Unfortunately for Uncle Joe, this is yet another political maneuver that highlights the uneven and nonsensical approach his administration has taken toward these vaccine mandates. There’s nothing about truckers that makes them magically resistant to the novel coronavirus. Despite the fact that most of them drive alone in their rigs as I mentioned above, they presumably finish their runs and go home to their families. They occasionally stop off to sleep in motels or to dine in roadhouses. They come in contact with plenty of people, albeit not so much while doing their job.
Also, as previously noted, even the truckers who are not exempt will be automatically given the option to submit weekly negative COVID tests. This is not an option currently being offered to most police, firefighters or other public servants. If weekly testing is good enough to “slow the spread” then it should be good enough for everyone and not just the politically favored, right?
This is all just a pile of malarkey, as Biden himself might say. And just to register one other, final complaint here, let’s address the idea that the mandate is a “temporary emergency order,” as defined by OSHA. If it’s actually “temporary,” that means there will be an end to it and a time when workers won’t have to provide proof of vaccination. But you can’t take the vaccine out of your body once it’s been injected. So it’s not really temporary at all for the vast majority of people.