Transportation Intermediaries Association [TIA] president and CEO Anne Reinke told Fox News on Thursday that since trucks were already “beyond capacity” before the president’s order, the nationwide supply chain crisis will only worsen. Reinke predicted the mandate would eliminate at least 10 to 15% of drivers.
“It’s making the problem that we already saw with bare shelves and high prices even worse,” she said.
The third-party logistics company deployed a press release last week denouncing the implementation of the mandate, stating that TIA is prepared to work with the administration throughout the pandemic but not at the expense of the economy.
Reinke then penned a letter to DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on Wednesday, requesting a reversal on the “ill-advised and poorly timed” mandate.
“This order is a disastrous scenario for every stakeholder involved,” she wrote. “Our carrier friends are equally as devasted by this order, which as previously noted has been ruled unconstitutional in the United States.”
TIA members have expressed concern with the order’s inevitable impact on truck availability while facing inflationary rates. SPI Logistics president Joe Chandler, CTB – a TIA member — laid out the importance of transportation on the overall economy.
“Trucking is the pipeline through which the economy flows,” he said. “And when you choke down on that pipeline, then you’re going to cause problems. The pipeline was already full. We already had more loads than we had trucks… It’s taken an already difficult situation and made it terribly worse.”
Protesters and supporters against a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for cross-border truckers cheer as a parade of trucks and vehicles pass through Kakabeka Falls outside of Thunder Bay, Ontario, on Wednesday, Jan. 26, 2022. (David Jackson/The Canadian Press via AP)
Even though the order has a direct impact on industry workers, Reinke stressed that these supply chain bottlenecks will have a ripple effect on the entire economy by lifting inflation even higher, trickling into America’s small businesses. Chandler confirmed how transportation costs “make up a portion of everything.”
“Transportation costs by truck have skyrocketed,” he said. “It seems to be concentrated north and south across the border but eventually those high rates that are being charged now are going to attract drivers back into those lanes and it’s going to suck the drivers away from someplace else and everybody’s rates are going to go up. So, it’s going to have an inflationary effect if we don’t tamp it down right away.”
Instead of debating the ethics of vaccinated vs. unvaccinated, Reinke argued that mandating vaccination is stripping down trucking capacity since some drivers are exercising their freedom of choice to not get the jab.
“Regardless of their decision to get vaccinated or not vaccinated… our role is to try to move freight,” she said. “So if that is a deterrent, if that makes it even harder to actually get things going… then that’s something that we can’t support… Let’s be pragmatic about it.”
Containers line a Port of Oakland shipping terminal on Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2021, in Oakland, Calif. AP Photo/Noah Berger
Reinke said she believes the Department of Labor’s prior exemptions for truckers should still hold true based on the solitary nature of the job. Chandler also pointed out that there have not been any issues with drivers spreading COVID-19, or else Canada would’ve shut their border “a long time ago.”
The TIA president shared she’d like President Biden to know that the supply chain is by “no means uncontested,” and waiting to enact the mandate following holiday shipments did not fix the issue.
“The unwinding of the supply chain — it may take into 2023,” she said. “This is not helping.”
Chandler explained that since production is already two weeks into a backlog, it would take more than two weeks to dig out of it, if the issue were to be resolved immediately.
Meanwhile, the support for frontline workers at the beginning of the pandemic has been left in the dust as vaccine mandates now bar the same workers from being employed. Chandler voiced how they’re being “unfairly singled out.”
“It’s not the issue of pro-vaccination, anti-vaccination,” he said. “We are pro supply chain.”
The Department of Homeland Security and Sec. Mayorkas have not responded to TIA’s request.