Trucking association warns federal COVID vaccine requirement could be 'disastrous' on supply chain

Friday, November 5, 2021
Truckers not fans of vaccine mandates
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Truckers told ABC11 that many may quit if vaccine mandates remain, and that could worsen the supply chain issues.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Several Triangle companies are working to figure out how they will comply with a new federal COVID-19 vaccine requirement.

It applies to businesses with 100 or more employees. Companies have until Jan. 4 to ensure workers are fully vaccinated.

All unvaccinated workers must begin wearing masks by Dec. 5 and provide a negative COVID test weekly.

"We're carefully reviewing it to determine how we will comply," said Duke Energy Progress Corporate Media and Executive Support Director Neil Nissan.

Workers, meanwhile, are facing a new reality.

Mike Bradshaw is not vaccinated.

He works 50-60 hours a week doing various different jobs.

"The reason why I haven't gotten it is because of different healthcare reasons and things like that," said Bradshaw.

He's OK with the mandate and figured he would have to get the shot sooner or later.

"I don't mind. As long as it keeps everybody safe, I think it's a good thing," said Bradshaw.

The requirement, if it stands, will affect an estimated 80 million Americans or two-thirds of U.S. workers

It's the first time Washington has set a federal standard that lists a respiratory virus as an occupational hazard. It will certainly face legal challenges.

The Truckload Carrier Association, TCA, warned the mandate will be "disastrous" on the already strained supply chain and it could ruin Christmas for many.

The TCA says it pleaded for an exemption and that the mandate will affect drivers across the country that residents rely upon to "deliver food, fuel, and presents for the upcoming holiday season."

Raleigh Resident Reyna Nish said she felt the mandate was an overreach.

"I personally like that government institutions have to have mandates, but I think privately-held companies like Google and Amazon -- that's really their decision," said Nish.

Ronald Boertmann, of Mount Pleasant, Tennessee, has been a truck driver for 34 years.

He said he had COVID-19 at the start of the pandemic and eventually did decide to get vaccinated -- but he added that it shouldn't be mandated.

"As an American, I don't think it should be forced on anybody. It should be your choice," Boertmann said.

He said he thinks the company he works for will go through with the vaccine mandate rule.

Truckers are independent people thinking," Boertmann said. "Out here, you're kind of by yourself. There's no one pushing you to go down that road. You make your own life."

Russell Ferguson, a truck driver based in Abilene, Texas, said he believes that if the ports start requiring vaccines, most truckers will quit

"That should be a personal choice no matter who you are, no matter where you are, no matter what you do," Ferguson said. "I do this just for the simple fact that I help America roll, that's what we do here.

"Most of the trucking company industry is nothing but veterans, and we are not about to let somebody as a tyrannical point of view ... and that's what we're doing with what we're seeing ... and it's just not going to happen."