According to social media posts by members of some trucking groups, a number of drivers plan to idle or slow their rigs to a crawl on Tuesday, Aug. 31, in protest of mandatory workplace COVID-19 vaccinations and virus-related travel restrictions.
Although it’s unclear just how many truckers will actually participate in the one-day protest, social media groups, including StopTheTires2020 and The Disrespected Trucker on Facebook, both primarily followed by professional drivers, seem to be supporting the effort.
There is currently no known nationwide movement to require mandatory vaccines for truckers. Several major corporations such as Walmart and Tyson, which employ thousands of truck drivers, have mandated the vaccine for some workers but, as of now, not for their transportation fleet employees.
In Australia, truckers have recently protested mandatory vaccinations by blocking roads and slowing the movement of goods. Many U.S. truckers say the Aug. 31 protest here is in solidarity with their Aussie brothers and sisters of the road.
Jeremy Rewoldt, founder of the Facebook group StopTheTires2020, said in a recent post that he had warned fellow U.S. truckers about coming policies that are designed to stifle freedoms.
“Well, I told you it was about future policies and how the(y) would effect [sic] every American. Remember without any consumers all of us drivers are useless. With out us product don’t get to the people. It’s a circle,” he wrote in a Aug. 14 post.
“Now do you believe me? Now is it time to wake the hell up?,” the post continues. “I have said it from the start it’s not about me. It’s not about you (yes you reading this), it’s about every hard working American in this great country. It effects [sic] everyone.”
Facebook user Diana Tolle wrote the following on the Facebook group We The People: “I believe our truckers should shut this country down. America stand up due to these vaccine mandates and passports and so much more that is BS. Turning one another against each other because we should all be vaccinated I don’t agree.”
One of the most outspoken truckers against the vaccine is TikTok user @disrespectedtrucker3. TikTok, which has millions of users, allows members to post video clips up to 90 seconds long and on just about any topic.
“On August 31st, on Tuesday, we’re asking that everybody not go to work,” he said in a video posting last week. “If they’re out on the road, shut your truck down. There are guys that plan on putting their trucks across the road. There’s guys who plan on parking on the side of the road, parking at home, and at truck stops.”
Beyond that, he didn’t offer any specific instructions about how to protest, saying only that he’s “just telling people to shut your trucks down, and nobody go to work at least for Tuesday. Maybe for the rest of the week. Until we get their attention in DC, we’re going to have to keep putting up with bulls**t mandates. What’s going on with the nurses and the military right now isn’t right. So, we’re going to stand up for Freedom.”
While the concept is not popular among some drivers and other workers, employers can legally require employees to get the shot.
According to the American Trucking Associations, in December 2020, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued guidance on how COVID vaccines apply to existing labor law. In sum, the guidance affirms an employer’s right to mandate that their employees receive a vaccine, as the law permits employers to set “a requirement that an individual shall not pose a direct threat to the health or safety of individuals in the workplace.”
In doing so, regulations require the employer to show the duration of the risk, the nature and severity of the potential harm, the likelihood that the potential harm will occur, and the imminence of the potential harm.
However, the guidance also notes two exceptions — protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Acts — for employees with disabilities or “sincerely” held religious beliefs that prohibit them from receiving a vaccine. In those cases, employers are required by regulation to provide “reasonable accommodations.”
Efforts to reach the U.S. Department of Transportation regarding mandatory Covid vaccines on Monday, Aug. 30, were unsuccessful.