If it is allowed to proceed amid court challenges, President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate will make America’s supply chain issues worse, according to a major figure in the trucking industry.
Chris Spear, president and CEO of the American Trucking Associations, outlined the damage the mandate could do during a Wednesday hearing of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
He said a significant number of truck drivers vehemently oppose the mandate.
“In our sample survey of our fleets, it came back as 37 percent of our drivers not only said no, but ‘hell no,’” Spear said.
He said that if even 10 percent of drivers who oppose the mandate were to “actually leave, rather than get the vaccine, that’d be catastrophic.
“We’re already short 80,000, that’s going to inflate it to a quarter million,” he said.
“We’ve tried to be very clear with the administration that if you do this, and I understand the logic behind it, but if you do this, these are the consequences. So if you’re trying to solve the supply chain problem, you know, you’re actually compounding it,” he said.
“Supply chain issues are not just the result of inefficiencies at ports, failing infrastructure throughout the nation, and regulations standing in the way of progress, but also the result of unintended consequences from unwise policy decisions,” Spear wrote in his prepared testimony.
“As we made clear in our comments to the Administration on the [Occupational Safety and Health Administration] vaccine or testing mandate, while ATA has promoted voluntary vaccinations amongst the trucking industry, we are adamantly opposed to misguided mandates on the trucking workforce.”
Spear said the mandate was not supported by facts.
“This mandate is wholly unnecessary based on our data also. While much of the country was sequestered in their homes over the past eighteen months, the trucking industry served its essential function, and did so successfully with safety standards developed by public health experts,” he said.
“In fact, ATA surveyed its members and provided data to the Administration showing that our drivers were well below the infection and mortality rates of the general population.”
Spear said the Biden administration was taking the wrong approach to maximize COVID-19 vaccinations.
“Because of its one-size-fits-all approach and short implementation timeline as well as logistical impossibility of administering testing on our incredibly mobile workforce, the rule inherently fails to balance the risks of a single standard for all industries against the broad impact that such a rule will have in exacerbating challenges to the supply chain and economy,” he said.
“Even if the ultimate goal is something we all agree on — increasing vaccination protections and defeating the COVID-19 pandemic — it is vital that public health measures first do no harm. This one will make the supply chain difficulties worse if it is not revisited substantially.”
Last week, ATA and several other trucking groups sued the Biden administration over the vaccine mandate.
In a news release, Spear said the mandate “puts employers in an untenable position of forcing workers to choose between working and their private medical decisions, which is something that cannot be allowed.
“We told the administration that this mandate, given the nature of our industry and makeup of our workforce, could have devastating impacts on the supply chain and the economy and they have, unfortunately, chosen to move forward despite those warnings,” he added.
GOP Rep. Sam Graves of Missouri, the ranking member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said during Wednesday’s hearing that Democratic policies are “making matters worse,” according to KMA-FM.
“The radical agenda that they continue to pursue through budget reconciliation and administrative actions increases energy and transportation costs,” he said. “It discourages work, and it drives up already skyrocketing inflation. All of this is exasperating the problem — it’s not fixing it.”
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