American Trucking Associations (ATA) president Chris Spear is pointing to Canada as a model as he pushes back on a U.S. proposal that would mandate vaccines or weekly Covid-19 tests at businesses with more than 100 employees.
The largest trucking lobby group in the U.S. submitted its official comments to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, asking for truckers to be exempt “in the same manner that Canada has in its national vaccine mandate”.
Federally regulated trucking companies are not included in an Oct. 30 Canadian mandate that will require air, rail and marine employers to establish vaccination policies for employees.
The ATA argues that the looming U.S. vaccine mandate would see affected carriers lose 74% of their unvaccinated employees or 34% of their driver workforce as drivers leave to small carriers, retire or resign.
In a September survey, it found that only half of surveyed drivers were vaccinated, and 62% of the unvaccinated said they would not get vaccinated under any circumstances, with a similar number saying there were no incentives the company could provide to change their mind. If facing a vaccine mandate, 25% of the unvaccinated said they would leave the industry.
“Assuming only 50% of drivers actually follow through on their stated intention to avoid the mandate, however, 18.5% of truck drivers would leave their current employers during the holiday season, including 6.5% completely departing the industry,” the submission notes.
“In fact, even assuming only 1% of the nation’s drivers leave the industry and/or move to smaller carriers, the disruption will be massive and crippling to our supply chain and economy.”
The Occupational Health and Safety Administration sent the Emergency Temporary Standard to the White House on Oct. 12, but changes have not yet been enacted.
“We have been in constant communication with administration officials to convey our serious concerns over the impact such a policy will have on the trucking industry and our ability to keep the nation’s supply lines moving,” Spear said in related letter to members.
“We have made clear that our industry can ill-afford further disruptions as we carry out the vital work of delivering vaccines, PPE, medical supplies, food, water, gasoline, and other essential goods.”
The Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) has also expressed worries that truck drivers will resign in the face of a coming U.S. vaccine mandate that will apply to cross-border truckers entering the U.S. That rule is scheduled to take hold in January.
It estimates that as many as 38,000 truck drivers would leave cross-border trucking in the face of such a rule.