Vaccine mandate halted, for now, as lawsuits fly

Trucking news and briefs for Monday, Nov. 8, 2021:

Vaccine mandate tied up in court

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s COVID-19 vaccine emergency temporary standard (ETS) is on hold after numerous challenges were filed in federal appeals courts across the country.

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans halted the vaccine mandate with an emergency motion to temporarily stay the rule’s enforcement on Saturday, Nov. 6, pending expedited judicial review. The court cites “grave statutory and constitutional issues” with the mandate.

Five states – Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina and Utah – are part of the Fifth Circuit lawsuit.

"The court’s action not only halts Biden from moving forward with his unlawful overreach, but it also commands the judicious review we sought,” said Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry. “The President will not impose medical procedures on the American people without the checks and balances afforded by the Constitution."

The federal government had until 5 p.m. Monday to file a response to the motion for a permanent injunction of the ETS, and the petitioners will have until 5 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 9, to reply.

States have also filed lawsuits in the Sixth, Eighth and Eleventh Circuit appeals courts challenging the mandate. In the Sixth Circuit, Kentucky, Idaho, Kansas, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee and West Virginia filed for a stay of the rule.

Eleven states filed an appeal in the Eighth Circuit – Missouri, Arizona, Nebraska, Montana, Arkansas, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, Alaska, New Hampshire and Wyoming – saying that the Supreme Court has recognized “for over a century” that “policies on compulsory vaccination lie within the police powers of the states, and that ‘they are matters that do not ordinarily concern the national government.’”

The states added that the mandate “is unconstitutional, unlawful, and unwise. The federal government lacks constitutional authority under its enumerated powers to issue this mandate, and its attempt to do so unconstitutionally infringes on the states’ powers expressly reserved by the Tenth Amendment. OSHA also lacks statutory authority to issue the ETS, which it shoe-horned into statutes that govern workplace safety, and which were never intended to federalize public-health policy.”

Finally, in the Eleventh Circuit, Florida, Georgia and Alabama filed an appeal to the mandate, claiming it conflicts with the First Amendment and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

The mandate only applies to employers with 100 or more workers. While there is no clear-cut exemption for truck drivers in OSHA's ETS, CNBC has reported that Labor Secretary Matt Walsh said the majority of truck drivers will be exempt from the requirements of the rule unless they drive team or "interact with people in buildings at their destinations or starting points." 

[Related: Vax mandate catches drivers in jurisdictional crossfire]  

Truck stops offering deals to veterans

Love’s Travel Stops, TA-Petro and Pilot Flying J are each honoring military veterans this week with Veterans Day deals.

Love’s is thanking those who have served in the military by donating $150,000 to Operation Homefront and by offering them a food and drink deal on Veterans Day. The donation will come from the sale of special edition Operation Homefront tumblers, combined with a gift from the company. Operation Homefront is a national nonprofit whose mission is to build strong, stable and secure military families so they can thrive in their communities.

On Thursday, Nov. 11, veterans or current members of the military can get a free roller grill item and fountain drink or coffee with the purchase of one roller grill item at participating locations. Additionally, when customers purchase a 24-ounce, special edition Operation Homefront tumbler throughout the month of November, $5 from the sale will go to the organization while supplies last.

TravelCenters of America is inviting all active-duty military, veterans and reservists to enjoy a complimentary meal on Veterans Day at participating quick service and full service restaurants. Anyone who has served in the armed forces can receive a complimentary meal of their choice by showing proof of service to their restaurant server prior to ordering. Proof of service includes: U.S. Uniformed Services ID card, current Leave and Earnings Statement (LES), veterans organization membership card, photograph in uniform, DD214 form, a citation or commendation. Guests may also see Fallen Soldier Tables on display at the restaurants on Veterans Day.

Pilot Flying J is offering veterans who are authenticated with ID.me in the Pilot myRewards Plus app an exclusive offer for a $10 free meal credit. Veterans can choose from a variety of food and beverages, including Pilot coffee, fountain drinks, non-alcoholic cooler beverages, hot and cold food items, name-brand snacks and purchases at over 680 participating quick-service restaurants. Through Nov. 15, all guests can thank veterans by rounding up an in-store purchase with all proceeds going directly to the Call of Duty Endowment to support jobs for veterans. 

[Related: Black Out makes a last ride in memory of 14 killed in Afghanistan]

Long Haul Paul performing for Wreaths Across America

Wreaths Across America is hosting a series of truck driver appreciation concerts for drivers and carriers donating their time, equipment and resources to haul veterans’ wreaths across the country for Wreaths Across America Day, Dec. 18. The concerts will take place in the Columbia Falls, Maine, truckers’ lounge.

This year, trucking songwriter, storyteller and Overdrive contributor Long Haul Paul Marhoefer will be performing free shows on Dec. 10-12 as drivers arrive in Maine to load up with truckloads of wreaths to be delivered to participating cemeteries across the country. He will also be joined by special guest cello virtuoso Michael Ronstadt, Linda Ronstadt’s nephew.

The concert series is made possible with the support of BullSnot Products and RoadPro Family of Brands.

[Related: Faces of the Road: Drexel Pence and his 1956 Mack B61

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