A number of trucking companies may consider whether to end their contracts with the federal government following President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate for federal contractors, according to the American Trucking Associations’ (ATA) executive vice president for advocacy.
In September, President Joe Biden announced sweeping vaccination measures that are focused on the federal government, the health care sector, and private businesses. Federal workers and contractors will be required to get a COVID-19 vaccine. Contractors have until Dec. 8 to get their employees vaccinated and can’t allow their employees to opt out.
The ATA’s Bill Sullivan told Politico that some companies may consider scrapping their federal contracts altogether if they can’t meet the Dec. 8 deadline for their workers to be vaccinated, which he said may lead to devastating consequences on their labor force, and potentially affect consumers during the peak holiday season.
“I am confident but with heavy heart recognize a vaccine mandate will mean less capacity for the government as a customer of freight,” he said. “It has the potential to seriously impact military readiness.”
Sullivan said he has communicated his concerns to the White House, the Office of Management and Budget, and other executive branch officials, and noted that if companies choose to scrap their federal contracts, it may lead to difficulties in getting food to troops, transport fuel for military vehicles, and it could even affect National Guard deployments.
“I feel like the president has tried to be beautifully simple like this could apply to everybody, and by doing that, there will be an impact,” he said.
Biden has vigorously defended his vaccine mandates to try to end the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus pandemic, a move that has been praised by public health officials and Democrats as a way of boosting the U.S. vaccination rate.
“We know there is no other way to beat the pandemic than to get the vast majority of Americans vaccinated,” Biden told reporters at a data center in the Chicago suburb of Elk Grove Village last month, The Associated Press reported.
But Republicans, businesses, and a number of unions fear that the rule could have widespread damaging economic effects and might create further labor shortages as workers refuse to get vaccinated. The deadline also comes shortly before the peak holiday season, prompting further concerns for the economy.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky told reporters at a press briefing at the White House on Oct. 20 that the Biden administration doesn’t want to “punish” workers who don’t get vaccinated by the December deadline and will instead offer them education and counseling in an effort to persuade them to have the shots.
“For the small number of people who do not comply by the deadline, the first step is a period of education and counseling,” Walensky said.
“It’s important to remember that this is a process, and the point here is to get people vaccinated, not to punish them. So agencies will not be removing employees from federal service until after they’ve gone through a process of education and counseling,” Walensky said.
“And just like federal agencies, contractors will follow standard processes for accommodations and enforcement among their employees.”
However, just 50 percent of drivers in the trucking industry were vaccinated as of September, according to a survey conducted by ATA, while 62 percent of those who hadn’t been vaccinated said they wouldn’t get the shots “under any circumstances.”
ATA Chief Executive Chris Spear said the group is now “examining all options” and may consider taking legal action against the administration’s vaccine mandate as well as terminating its government contracts, according to Politico.
Republican lawmakers recently raised concerns about the potential impact of Biden’s COVID-19 vaccine mandates for federal employees and tens of millions of public-sector workers.
In a letter addressed to the directors of three federal agencies directly involved, Reps. James Comer (R-Ky.) and Jody Hice (R-Ga.) requested more information on the mandates, including the current number of vaccinated federal workers, documentation tracking federal employee terminations, and information on enforcement.
The letter questions White House claims that vaccine requirements will only cause minimal worker resignations. It also calls the mandates “authoritarian and extreme” and suggests they may not hold up in court.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis filed a similar lawsuit last month.