The American Trucking Associations is just one of several groups set to meet with White House Officials this week to discuss a potential delay of the recent vaccine mandate.
The recent mandate, which would require employees of companies with more than 100 employees to be vaccinated, or at least tested weekly, has groups from all sectors of business worried about the effects the mandate may have, particularly regarding a potential mass exodus of employees.
Citing those concerns about the effect the vaccine mandate could have on their businesses and the economy in general, the ATA, along with groups representing dentists, staffing companies, realtors, and more are set to meet with officials at the Office of Management and Budget on Monday and Tuesday of this week. The OMB has already met with dozens of labor unions, industry lobbyists, and even private individuals last week and the mandate gets a final review from the administration.
Just last week, the ATA warned the administration that many truck drivers would likely rather quit than be vaccinated – a fact that could be decimating to the national supply chain at a time when it is already incredibly vulnerable. The ATA estimates that companies included in the mandate could lose as much as 37% of their drivers to resignation, retirement, and movement to smaller companies excluded from the mandate.
“Now placing vaccination mandates on employers, which in turn force employees to be vaccinated, will create a workforce crisis for our industry and the communities, families and businesses we serve,” ATA President and CEO, Chris Spear, wrote in a letter to the OMB last week. In that letter, the ATA also suggested that truckers be exempt from the mandate entirely, citing the fact that drivers can work alone for days or even weeks at a time, making them similar to remote workers.
The trucking industry isn’t the only one concerned – retailers are also worried that the mandates could trigger even more resignations, exacerbating an already rising short-staffing problem for many businesses. In fact, 30% of respondents in a poll conducted last month said that they would quit their job before complying with a testing of vaccine mandate. A poll conducted by CDLLife just last week revealed similar feelings within the trucking industry specifically.
“It has been a hectic holiday season already, as you know, with supply chain struggles,” Evan Armstrong, a lobbyist at the Retail Industry Leaders Association, said to CNBC after a meeting with White House officials last Monday. “This is a difficult policy to implement. It would be even more difficult during the holiday season.”
The National Retail Foundation, the ATA, and more are asking White House officials to give businesses 90 days to comply with the mandate, which would delay implementation until late January 2022 at the earliest. The US Chamber of Commerce made a similar request last week and asked the administration to postpone the mandate until after the Holiday Season.
Even the Business Roundtable, a nonprofit lobbyist organization aimed at promoting a thriving US economy and expanded opportunities for all, has stated that it supports the vaccination efforts put forth by the White House, but believes that the administration “should allow the time necessary for employers to comply, and that includes taking into account employee retention issues, supply chain challenges and the upcoming holiday season.”
Former OSHA officials, which will enforce the mandate once it has been reviewed and implemented, say that there is reason to believe that businesses will have some time before they are required to implement the new rules.
“OSHA has always had provisions where its required equipment, for example, that may be in short supply to suspend enforcement if an employer can show its made a good faith effort to procure that equipment,” said Jordan Barab, deputy assistant secretary of OSHA during the Obama administration. “They may make a relatively early date for weekly testing but also provide some additional time in case supplies are not adequate.”