ARLINGTON, Va . — Representatives from the American Trucking Associations (ATA) are scheduled to meet this week with members of the White House’s Office of Management and Budget (WHOMB) to discuss concerns over the Biden administration’s mandatory COVID-19 vaccine order.
The vaccine order is being administered through the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and has not yet gone into effect. There is no firm timeline on when it will.
ATA President Chris Spear, in a letter sent to the WHOMB on Oct. 21, warned that such a mandate would likely create serious problems within the trucking industry.
“While much of the country was sequestered in their homes, the trucking industry served its essential function and did so successfully with safety standards developed by public health experts,” Spear wrote.
“Now placing vaccination mandates on employers, which in turn force employees to be vaccinated, will create a workforce crisis for our industry and the communities, families and businesses we serve. In fact, should the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the leadership of the federal task force on COVID continue on the paths they are on, the nation’s motor carriers – who exclusively supply 80% of the country and move 70% of all US freight tonnage – could lose up to 37% of their drivers to retirements, attrition to smaller carriers and/or conversion to independent contractor owner-operators.”
Spear went on to say that the ATA supports “the administration’s goals of increased vaccination rates and clear health guidelines to enhance protections for all Americans. We have urged trucking industry employees to get vaccinated and will continue to do so. We will also continue to work with federal authorities to increase voluntary vaccination rates for our sector.”
In his letter, Spear said that the ATA is asking for an exemption for truck drivers “akin to that provided by Canada for its drivers or alternatively deferring coverage of truck drivers to the tradition regulating agency with transportation expertise rather than OSHA. Federal contractors that implement the vaccine mandate required in Executive Order 14042 should not have to comply with a second set of OSHA rules — those that implement the E.O. 14042 mandate should be deemed compliant with the OSHA ETS and ideally vice versa to avoid overlapping and contradictory requirements. …”
Spear also warned that the mandates could further damage the supply chain.
“The U.S. is already facing unprecedented supply chain disruptions and delays due to many factors, including significant labor shortages, production shutdowns, a shortage of raw materials, and pent-up consumer demand,” he wrote said. “…Our data shows that a vaccine mandate may very well further cripple the supply chain throughout the country by forcing up to 13% of drivers to leave the industry entirely.”
The Trucker News Staff produces engaging content for not only TheTrucker.com, but also The Trucker Newspaper, which has been serving the trucking industry for more than 30 years. With a focus on drivers, the Trucker News Staff aims to provide relevant, objective content pertaining to the trucking segment of the transportation industry. The Trucker News Staff is based in Little Rock, Arkansas.