Arlington, VA – FMI – The Food Industry Association joined ten other trade groups representing grocery, truck drivers, wholesalers-distributors, warehousing and logistics providers and small businesses in a lawsuit challenging the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) for COVID-19 vaccination and testing. FMI President and CEO Leslie G. Sarasin offered the following statement regarding the litigation filed in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals:
“At FMI, the health and safety of our members’ customers and employees is our top priority. Our industry supports efforts to encourage greater vaccination among the American public and has gone to extraordinary lengths to promote vaccination rates among our associates and communities. In fact, our 10,000 food retail pharmacies have administered a significant percentage of the nation’s COVID-19 vaccinations and boosters.
“However, we believe that the ETS, as currently written, will only exacerbate ongoing labor challenges and worsen an already existing shortage of transport and supply chain capacity. Vaccine and testing mandates would further slow delivery times and drive up costs for consumers, retailers and manufacturers alike while disrupting our ability to keep the level of food on the shelves necessary to serve our communities as we approach the busy holiday shopping season, which has already been plagued by rising inflation and consumer fears about product availability.
“We are pursuing litigation because the time and resources needed to put policies and procedures in place to track employee vaccination status and determine who needs to be regularly tested — not to mention how annual seasonal hiring will impact whether a company is subject to the mandate — will create significant challenges during the busiest time of year for food retailers.
“We hope to continue to work with OSHA to encourage and facilitate vaccinations for more Americans, address issues related to the ETS, including the lack of testing availability for workers who chose not to get vaccinated, and reevaluate exemptions for low-contact workers – such as truck drivers – who work largely in isolation.”