American truckers don’t like taking orders. But the Biden administration has increased pressure on them to take the vaccine—willing or unwilling.
All through the pandemic, truckers endured hardships to keep America’s infrastructure running. They waited in line for hours in sight of bathrooms they weren’t allowed to use. On the road, some died alone of COVID-19.
Now, with supply chains disrupted, Americans need them more than ever.
But faced with the prospect of a forced vaccination, many drivers are considering quitting.
“I’d fight it,” said veteran trucker Mike Widdins, referring to vaccine mandates. “I think a lot of us will be quitting. Who likes to be forced to do stuff you don’t want to do?”
Widdins isn’t alone in his willingness to leave trucking if forced to vaccinate. Polls by trucking publications Commercial Carrier Journal and OverDrive indicate that up to 30 percent of truckers will seriously consider quitting if forced to vaccinate. If they quit, the consequences for America may be massive. US Transport estimates that 70 percent of American freight goes by truck.
“It would hurt shipping big-time,” Widdins said.
President Joe Biden ordered his administration to mandate vaccines for private companies with over 100 employees. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration was charged with developing the rule, and the Office of Budget and Management is currently reviewing it. The review process can take as long as 90 days.
Most of the trucking industry consists of companies with fewer than 100 employees, though a significant portion would fall under the over-100-employee umbrella.
Most truck companies have six trucks or fewer, according to the American Trucking Associations.
Some experts say the selective reach of the mandate makes it ineffective. Barbara Smithers, vice president of the Indiana Motor Truck Association, told The Epoch Times via email that it makes little sense to “cherry pick” who to vaccinate based on company size.
“Truck drivers spend most of their work hours alone in the cab of a truck—literally one of the safest places possible during a pandemic—so why do they need to be regulated in this way?” she said. “Testing hundreds of thousands of truck drivers moving across the country every day is a virtual impossibility.”
For mandate-affected companies, Biden’s decision may drive away employees at a time when America needs them most. The American Trucking Associations estimates that America needs 80,000 more truckers to meet transportation needs.
By Jackson Elliott, Cara Ding, Allan Stein, Steven Kovac, Jannis Falkenstern and Nick Ciolino