Cargo air shipping companies warned the White House that its proposed vaccine mandate will wreak havoc on the supply chain by putting even more strain on staffing across the industry, according to a letter sent by a cargo association to the Biden administration.
“We have significant concerns with the employer mandates announced on Sept. 9, 2021, and the ability of industry members to implement the required employee vaccinations by Dec. 8, 2021,” Stephen Alterman, the head of the Cargo Airline Association, wrote to the Office of Management and Budget, which is currently reviewing an emergency temporary standard that was submitted last week by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration that would mandate vaccines or regular testing for employees who work at firms with 100 or more workers.
With supply chains already suffering due to massive backlogs at key California ports and a shortage of truckers and other workers, the Cargo Airline Association—which represents UPS, DHL, and FedEx—said the vaccine mandate will create chaos.
President Joe Biden said that federal workers and federal contractors will have to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Contractors have until Dec. 8 to mandate their employees to get the shot. Federal contractors, which include UPS and FedEx cannot have their employees opt out of the vaccine mandate.
“[T]he looming December 8 mandate for having fully vaccinat[ed] workforces creates a significant supply chain problem,” Alterman said in the letter. “This problem is further exacerbated by the fact that we are already experiencing a worker shortage, both in the air and on the ground, and any loss of employees who refuse to be vaccinated will adversely impact needed operations.”
What’s more, Alterman warned that many air cargo companies ship vital medical supplies, including COVID-19 vaccines.
Last Wednesday, Biden met with the heads of UPS, FedEx, and other firms, as well as the heads of the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, to address significant bottlenecks in shipping and supply lines. The Marine Exchange, which tracks container ships at the two major ports, said there are 169 ships in port as of Oct. 21. On Oct. 15, there were 147 ships in port, the organization reported.