Above the Fold: Supply Chain Logistics News (November 12, 2021)

O, my oldest daughter’s pet hamster, died this week. 

He was a dwarf hamster with a giant personality.

She got O in March 2020, shortly after I accidentally helped her previous hamster, Speedy, escape from his cage in the middle of the night. Despite setting food traps all over the house, Speedy never returned. 

O, on the other hand, escaped several times, including in my daughter’s college dorm, but he would always (miraculously) find his way back home.

Like all hamsters, O certainly enjoyed running on his wheel (hamsters can run 5 or more miles per night). He was fast too, his tiny legs a blur when he sprinted. I often wondered what he thought about when he ran, if he ever wondered why he ran so hard to get nowhere.

I don’t know where hamsters go when they die (my daughter buried O under a tree near her old dorm), but as she said after laying him to rest, “R.I.P., little one. Run in Peace.”

Moving on to this week’s supply chain and logistics news…

COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate: Something Else to Disagree About 

Where do you stand on the COVID-19 vaccine mandate issued by the Biden Administration?

Ask that question, especially on social media, and you might be sorry you did.

As with other topics related to the pandemic, there are lots of opinions on the matter, but as often happens on social media, those differences ultimately devolve into bickering and name-calling. 

For now, the mandate is on hold following the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit issuing a temporary stay. However, that is not stopping several parties from filing lawsuits against the Biden Administration over the mandate, including the American Trucking Associations, along with the Louisiana Motor Truck Association, the Mississippi Trucking Association and the Texas Trucking Association. Here’s an excerpt from the press release issued by the ATA this week:

“To be very clear, ATA and its member companies support efforts to encourage all Americans to get vaccinated against COVID-19 – our trucks and drivers have been on the front line in fighting this pandemic since the beginning, moving personal protective equipment, test kits, the vaccine itself and much more as the country locked down, but we believe that the Biden Administration has overstepped its statutory authority in issuing this Emergency Temporary Standard,” said ATA President and CEO Chris Spear. “This standard arbitrarily picks winners and losers, and puts employers in an untenable position of forcing workers to choose between working and their private medical decisions, which is something that cannot be allowed.

“We told the administration that this mandate, given the nature of our industry and makeup of our workforce, could have devastating impacts on the supply chain and the economy and they have, unfortunately, chosen to move forward despite those warnings,” he said. “So we are now, regrettably, forced to seek to have this mandate overturned in court.”

Truckers are not alone in voicing their concern and opposition to the mandate. For example, as reported by Augusta Saraiva in Bloomberg, “James McKenna, president of the Pacific Maritime Association, which negotiates labor agreements for 70 companies at 29 West Coast ports, said he’s concerned that some workers who aren’t vaccinated won’t report for duty if there’s a mandate in place. McKenna estimates 30% to 40% of local dockworkers aren’t vaccinated.” Here’s more from the article:

McKenna also said it will be difficult to enforce the mandate given the flexible nature of dock work, in which employees are dispatched to areas where there is demand. About 80% of the labor force work on a rotation basis, and not for a single employer. 

Due to the outdoor nature of many dockwork jobs, a large share of employees wouldn’t be subject to the mandate, because the rule doesn’t apply to those working exclusively outdoors, McKenna said.

Meanwhile, as Lydia O’Neal reports in the Wall Street Journal, many “freight transport and warehousing firms [including UPS, Amazon, Ryder, and Penske Logistics] say they encourage vaccinations but won’t demand them.”

If an outbreak of COVID-19 amongst workers won’t shut down or limit your operations, then maybe a mandate to get workers vaccinated will. These are the times we live in.

What’s your take on the vaccine mandate? Is your company preparing either way?

Then again, maybe I don’t want to know.

And with that, have a happy weekend!

Song of the Week: “Chaise Longue” by Wet Leg