Retail and trucking trade groups sue Biden administration to overturn vaccine mandate

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  • The National Retail Federation, the National Federation of Independent Business and the American Trucking Association sued the Biden administration over their vaccine and testing requirements.
  • They argue that the requirements will result in businesses losing employees and compliance costs, as well as disrupting the supply chain.
  • The White House has asked businesses to enforce the requirements, even as there is a legal drama going on in court.

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National industry groups representing retail, truck drivers and independent businesses sued the Biden administration on Wednesday over its vaccine and testing requirements for private companies, claiming they would cause “irreparable harm.”

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The National Retail Federation, the National Federation of Independent Businesses and the American Trucking Associations told the US Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit in their lawsuit that businesses will lose employees, face “irreparable compliance costs” and are “already fragile.” The situation will face deteriorating conditions due to “supply chain and labor market” requirements.

The appellate court, which is considered one of the most conservative in the country, had already put the vaccine and testing requirements on hold pending review on Saturday, writing that the legal challenges “give reason to believe that with the mandate There are serious statutory and constitutional issues.”

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The court order was issued in response to challenges from Republican attorneys general of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina and Utah, as well as several private companies. He argued that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which would enforce the mandate, exceeded its authority in an unconstitutional delegation of authority to the executive branch by Congress.

Matthew Shay, president of the National Retail Federation, said in a statement Tuesday that retailers are concerned about enforcing requirements during the busy holiday shopping season. The NRF, which represents the nation’s largest retailers including Target and Walmart, sent a letter to President Joe Biden on Friday asking for the deadline to be extended beyond January, and requested a meeting with the administration on Tuesday.

“We have repeatedly and repeatedly expressed our concerns about the practical challenges of meeting those arbitrary goals,” Shay said. “However, it appears that our only remaining course of action is to file a petition for judicial relief.”

American Trucking Association president Chris Spear said in a statement Wednesday that truckers told the Biden administration that the requirements “could have a devastating impact on the supply chain and the economy,” but the administration “unfortunately, despite those warnings, went ahead.” chose to grow”.

“So now we are, sadly, forced to seek a reversal of this mandate in court,” Spear said.

Labor Secretary Marty Walsh said in an interview with MSNBC on Thursday that most truck drivers are exempt from the mandate because they are usually driving alone. OSHA exempts workers who do not report at a workplace where others are present, as well as those working from home or exclusively outside.

The National Federation of Independent Business said in its statement that the mandate restricts the freedoms of small business owners, calling the requirements “a clear example of administrative redundancy.”

White House Deputy Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters on Tuesday that the requirements would help businesses avoid labor shortages, thereby preventing workers from getting sick from Covid.

The requirements officially went into effect Friday, starting a countdown for businesses with 100 or more employees to ensure their employees have received the shots they need for full vaccinations by Jan. After that date, unvaccinated workers must submit a negative COVID test weekly. to enter the workplace. Unaffiliated workers should start wearing masks indoors from December 5.

The Biden administration, in response to the lawsuits on Monday, calling the damages claims from states and companies “premature”, asked the court to lift the pause because the critical deadline for vaccination or testing is not until January. The administration also warned the court that withholding the requirements “could result in the loss of dozens or even hundreds of lives per day.” The Labor and Justice Departments also argued that OSHA acted well within its authority established by Congress.

The administration is facing litigation over vaccine and testing requirements. Republican attorney generals in at least 26 states have sued to block the requirements in five different US appeals courts. The Republican National Committee has also filed suit in the DC Court of Appeals.

OSHA, which ensures workplace safety for the Department of Labor, developed vaccine and testing requirements under emergency authority established by Congress. That authority allows OSHA to shorten the normal process of developing workplace safety and health standards, which can take years.

The Labor Department’s top lawyer, Seema Nanda, has said the administration is “absolutely prepared to defend this standard in court,” pointing to OSHA’s right to “act quickly in an emergency where the agency has to shows that workers are at serious risk and a new standard is necessary for their safety.”

OSHA, justification for the needs On Friday, the “extraordinary and urgent circumstances” of the pandemic said the agency needed to “immediately address the grave danger that COVID-19 poses to unvaccinated workers by strongly encouraging vaccination.”

As the legal challenges mount, cases will soon be consolidated into a single court through random selection between the jurisdictions where the petitions were filed. The Justice Department said in a filing Monday that the random selection process is expected to take place on or around November 16.

David Vladeck, a law professor at Georgetown University, told CNBC on Monday that there is a “high probability” that the case will end up before the Supreme Court.

The White House, for its part, is asking businesses to move forward with the requirements, even as the legal drama plays out in the nation’s federal appeals courts.

“People should not wait,” Jean-Pierre told reporters during a briefing on Monday. “They should continue to go ahead and make sure they are getting their workplace vaccinated.”

CNBC Lauren Thomas contributed to this article.

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