Officials at the Office of Management and Budget have been holding dozens of meetings with business groups and labor unions who are pleading with the White House to either withdraw Biden’s vaccine mandate for businesses entirely or delay it until after the Christmas holidays.
Apparently, no one informed the president that the holiday season is the busiest time of year for retailers who would be caught seriously short-staffed if managers could only hire vaccinated people.
The vaccine mandate for employers will require all businesses of more than 100 workers to ensure they are vaccinated against COVID or tested weekly for the virus. The mandate will cover about 80 million workers.
To add to Joe Biden’s woes, the American Truckers Association says that many drivers would likely quit rather than get vaccinated. Seventy percent of all goods in the United States are shipped at least part of the way to their destination by truck. Think of the supply chain headaches that such a scenario would bring to the White House.
The trucking association estimates companies covered by the mandate could lose 37% of drivers through retirements, resignations and workers switching to smaller companies not covered by the requirements.
“Now placing vaccination mandates on employers, which in turn force employees to be vaccinated, will create a workforce crisis for our industry and the communities, families and businesses we serve,” Chris Spear, the association’s president and CEO, wrote in a letter to the OMB last Thursday.
The business and labor groups are asking the White House to delay implementation of the mandate for 90 days — at least until the end of January.
“It has been a hectic holiday season already, as you know, with supply chain struggles,” Evan Armstrong, a lobbyist at the Retail Industry Leaders Association told CNBC after a meeting with White House officials last Monday. “This is a difficult policy to implement. It would be even more difficult during the holiday season.”
Thirty percent of unvaccinated workers said they would leave their jobs rather than comply with a vaccine or testing mandate, according to a KFF poll published last month. Goldman Sachs, in an analysis published in September, said the mandate could hurt the already tight labor market. However, it said survey responses are often exaggerated and not as many people will actually quit.
Retail businesses, first responders, municipal employees — almost everyone wants an exception for complying with the mandate. At the very least, either Biden’s White House seriously underestimated vaccine resistance or never bothered to measure the catastrophic impact on the economy if that resistance materialized.
It’s easy to tell a pollster you would rather quit than be vaccinated, but when it comes time to be fired or get the shot, many people will knuckle under. In a flush job market like today, however, people may actually have a choice. They might choose to work for a company that employs fewer than 100 workers to avoid the mandate altogether.
OSHA, who will administer the mandate, says that companies will have some time to implement the mandate, meaning that there will likely be some sort of grace period where a company is allowed to be in non-compliance. But sometime after the first of the year, in companies that employ more than 100 people, employees will be forced to vaccinate or get a weekly test — probably at their own expense.