by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Truck drivers fear that President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate will further exacerbate the supply chain crisis and cause snarls going into 2022.
The trucking industry issued new warnings after the Occupational Safety and Health Administration released guidance Thursday on the mandates after much anticipation. All companies with more than 100 employees will be required to have their workers vaccinated or provide proof of weekly negative COVID-19 tests. Additionally, all businesses that have contracts with the federal government, no matter the size, will also have to adhere to the vaccine mandate, although they don’t have a testing option.
The deadline for the guidance, which has originally been set for Dec. 8, was pushed back to Jan. 4 in an apparent effort to avoid supply chain disruptions right in the middle of the holiday season. Many trucking companies contend that pushing back the deadline is only a temporary fix and that the supply chain will become more frayed in January when the rules become effective.
The Truckload Carriers Association had hoped that truckers would be exempt from the mandate that is expected to affect 100 million workers in the United States — or about two-thirds of the country’s workforce.
“TCA repeatedly called on the Administration to heed our warnings regarding this mandate’s impact on the already constrained supply chain , yet they chose to proceed with a disastrous mandate which will undoubtedly ensure the trucking industry loses a substantial number of drivers,” the group said in a statement.
During a Friday interview with the Washington Examiner, Mark Allen, the CEO of the International Foodservice Distributors Association, said he was surprised that there were not specific exemptions for truckers, especially given the solitary nature of the job and that most drivers are alone in their vehicles all day and have little person-to-person interaction.