White House Officials Not Expecting Vaccine Mandate Attrition to Cause Holiday Labor Shortage

By Nick Ciolino
Nick Ciolino
Nick Ciolino
Nick Ciolino covers the White House.
October 27, 2021 Updated: October 27, 2021

White House officials say they do not expect COVID-19 vaccine mandates to add further burden to holiday supply chains.

A recent letter from the American Trucking Association (ATA) to the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) expressed concerns at the administration’s soon-to-be imposed vaccine requirements.

The letter says the trucking industry could lose as much as 37 percent of its drivers to retirement and attrition because of the mandates.

It calls for, among other things, more time to implement a new rule from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and exemptions for federal-contractor mandates to “avoid harming the nation’s already stressed supply chain.”

Referring to the potential of mass resignations by truckers, White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters Oct. 27: “There isn’t an expectation, or anticipation, by anyone who has been through implementation of this, many of in the transportation sector, that that would be the impact.”

Psaki notes flexibility in the mandates saying the first step to address those refusing the shot is not firing, or quitting, but counselling.

“To be clear, the requirements for federal workers and contractors will not cause disruption,” echoed White House coronavirus response coordinator Jeff Zients.

“These vaccination requirements, as we’ve talked about before, work.”

Zients notes several major companies that have achieved vaccination rates above 90 percent after implementing requirements for employees ahead of the federal rule.

The National Retail Federation has also said it has “serious questions” about the forthcoming rule.

“We’re really concerned how that’s going to impact us,” the federation’s vice president of government relations and workforce development Edwin Egee told The Hill.

“There’re already over a million vacant positions in the retail industry, and this is not going to help that, especially as we’re going to try to hire up more as we move into the holiday season.”

On Oct. 12, OSHA finalized the initial draft of the Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) set to implement President Joe Biden’s vaccine-mandate order requiring businesses with more than 100 workers to put vaccine mandates in place for employees.

OMB’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs is conducting a review of the emergency standard, which OSHA is allowed to issue if it determines workers are in “grave danger.” The review process could take as long as 90 days.

Several Republican governors and attorneys general have vowed to fight the mandate in court.

A vaccine requirement for federal employees and contractors goes into effect on Dec. 8.

The White House continues to point to an increased volume of goods being shipped as the root cause of supply-chain bottlenecks that have created long waits for freighters at U.S. ports and spurred 24-hour work schedules from a list of U.S. companies in recent weeks.

Psaki says the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach have already moved more containers this year than in any other year and there are some reports of reduced congestion at ports and railroads following announcements of increased work during off hours.

“This is a top priority. We’ve already seen progress and we’re going to continue to stay at it,” Psaki said.

Shipping companies at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach will soon be fined if their containers stay in marine terminals too long, officials announced Oct. 25.

Officials at San Pedro Bay Ports said in a statement that, starting Nov. 1, fines will begin being handed out.


Nick Ciolino
Nick Ciolino covers the White House.