Trucking industry leaders “on pins and needles” about possible employee vaccine mandate

Local trucking organizations fear that federal vaccine mandates could exacerbate existing labor shortages and drastically slow down supply chains.

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – Local trucking organizations fear that federal vaccine mandates could exacerbate existing labor shortages and drastically slow down supply chains.

“The whole mandate issue is a very much a concern,” Crete Carrier CEO Tonn Ostergard said. “It would be a huge issue to our industry.”

In January, the Biden administration will require that all truck drivers who travel across the U.S. border be vaccinated.

Kent Grisham, the president of the Nebraska Trucking association, says there are instances where Nebraska truckers cross into Mexico or Canada, but this particular mandate is not of concern.

“Those drivers who aren’t vaccinated can be rerouted to where they don’t run across the border,” Grisham said. “We’re not really that concerned about that. What we’re concerned about is the domestic mandate.”

Grisham is referring to the federal OSHA vaccine mandate for employers with more than 100 employees.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals granted and later affirmed a stay on the mandate, putting it on hold.

It’s something that all business leaders are monitoring.

“We’re all on pins and needles waiting to see what will happen here,” he said.

Ostergard says several Crete Carrier employees have approached him about their concerns with the vaccine. For many of his truckers, the mandate is an issue of civil liberty.

“Our employees in general just want to have that freedom of choice,” Ostergard said. “Whatever their issue might be, they just don’t want to be told what to do.”

Ostergard worries that a vaccine mandate could have a devastating impact on the trucking industry.

“If you took even 5% [of truckers] that said, we’re not going to be vaccinated, the estimates are that would be over 200,000 drivers that would leave the industry, not just our company, but the industry in general,” Ostergard said. “We can’t afford that. We are already so tightly constrained.”

Grisham says truckers leaving due to vaccine mandates could make supply chain issues around the country even worse.

“If you choke down the availability of trucks, even more than what we already have, you’re going to see more empty shelves, you’re going to see longer wait times for merchandise and goods and those kinds of services to be delivered,” he said.

Categories: Consumer News, Coronavirus, Lancaster, Nebraska News