Biden vaccine mandate may worsen low driver retention rates

Driver refusals could heavily impact large fleets


John Gallagher, FreightWaves

September 9, 2021


An emergency rule being developed by the U.S. Department of Labor mandating vaccines or weekly testing for workers at companies with 100 or more employees is likely to exacerbate the already low driver retention rates in the trucking industry.


“Some of the biggest companies are already requiring this — United Airlines, Disney, Tyson Foods and even Fox News,” said President Joe Biden in announcing the new requirement at the White House on Thursday. “The bottom line: We’re going to protect vaccinated workers from unvaccinated co-workers.”


Biden said that the rule — which will affect over 80 million private sector workers across the country — will have a provision for those who do not want to get vaccinated to show a negative COVID-19 test result at least once a week.


Trucking companies with approximately 50 tractors can have at least 100 employees, based on rough estimates. Statistics compiled by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and FreightWaves Passport Research reveal that fleets with 56 or more tractors make up roughly 1.3% of the nation’s fleets but over half of the total number of tractors (see chart).


That means a large number of seats could wind up unfilled if even a small percentage of drivers refuse to get the vaccine, at a time when trucking companies are already straining to fill seats in order to take advantage of the high demand for their services.


The American Trucking Associations pointed out that the mandate will not be felt immediately...


more, including table, links