Millions of truckers are balking at President Joe Biden’s workplace vaccine mandate, which would be catastrophic for the nation’s supply chain problem if it is enforced, an American Trucking Associations executive told House members this week.
“We’ve tried to be very clear to the administration — I understand the logic behind it — but if you do this, these are the consequences,” said ATA President Chris Spear. “So if you’re trying to solve the supply chain problem, you’re actually compounding it and actually hurting the very problem you’re trying to fix.”
ATA is the nation’s largest trucking trade group. Spear testified in front of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on supply chain problems.
America is currently short approximately 80,000 truckers compared to pre-pandemic levels. If Biden’s Jan. 4 vaccine deadline is enforced, the industry will lose 37% of its truckers, or 2.5 million people, according to an ATA survey.
The survey “came back as 37% of drivers not only said ‘no,’ but ‘hell no,’” Spear testified. “It’s not about being anti-vax — we’ve been moving the vaccine test kits.”
Rep. Doug LaMalfa, a California Republican, told the Washington Examiner that the supply chain is a disaster because both Biden and Gov. Gavin Newsom are more focused on climate change and vaccinating children. The Los Angeles ports, the busiest in the Western Hemisphere, are backed up with 106 supply ships waiting to unload off the coast, according to the latest figures.
“Newsom has been pretty inattentive on all this … and the Biden administration is not really helping either,” LaMalfa said. “Truckers are independent individuals. They are like the cowboys of the highways and don’t want to be pushed around.”
Spear also testified that fining shippers for full containers that linger too long at ports is a bad idea because the cost just gets passed down to consumers. Los Angeles and Long Beach ports implemented such fines last month as a way to clear the backlog.
“It’s just another layer we’re going to have to bear. I don’t think it’s a good solution,” Spear said. “It’s just one choke point of many.” He added that the problem is simply too many containers stacked up at the ports and not enough time to clear them.
Republican Rep. Rick Crawford asked, “So assessing fines and fees associated with that is probably just going to be exacerbating the problem with inflation?”
“I don’t think it does anything, congressman. I really don’t,” Spear responded.
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