Above the Fold: Supply Chain Logistics News (February 11, 2022)

Another week, another list of funding rounds and acquisitions in the supply chain and logistics realm. Descartes, Flexport, Körber, Bringg, and Maersk (among others) are on the list this week.

Also, it’s another week of unhappy truckers protesting in Canada (and, maybe, soon in the U.S. too). Yesterday’s “unsung heroes of the pandemic” are now what? 

Some thoughts below, along with the rest of this week’s supply chain and logistics news:

Truckers: From Heroes to What?

To paraphrase a comment from a Wall Street Journal op-ed this week, when Canadians, among the friendliest and most law-abiding people on the planet, get mad enough to protest in large numbers in public, you know something is going on.

In last Friday’s post, I talked about the vaccine mandates implemented by Canada and the United States on cross-border truck drivers. Also last week, we asked our Indago supply chain research community members if they believe these vaccine mandates will be disruptive for cross-border supply chains. Not surprising, our members had differing viewpoints on this topic, as these two comments illustrate:

“At a time where the world is having supply chain disruptions, the last thing we need is to limit the amount of drivers moving freight.”

“[We might experience] a short-term disruption, but [these mandates are] important to the overall effort that needs to be taken to get us out of pandemic status.”

Well, the disruptions have begun.

On Monday, protesters blocked the Ambassador Bridge, which connects Detroit to Windsor, Ontario. How important is this bridge? In 2020, there were more than 2.2 million truck crossings on it, according to the Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers’ Association.

By Wednesday, the bridge had been partially re-opened, “with vehicles able to travel from Windsor, Ontario, to Detroit, but at sharply reduced traffic levels,” Paul Vieira and Jacquie McNish reported in the Wall Street Journal. “Meanwhile, U.S. trucks and other vehicles cannot enter Canada via the Ambassador Bridge, which crosses the Detroit River and carries roughly 30% of two-way annual U.S.-Canada trade.”

Here’s more from the article:

“Commercial traffic has been rerouted north to the Blue Water Bridge, [which is] roughly 66 miles north of the Detroit-Windsor crossing. By late Wednesday, trucks were backed up more than 17 miles on Michigan highways leading to that bridge, a spokeswoman for the Michigan Department of Transportation said, adding that it was taking truckers up to five hours to cross the Blue Water Bridge.”

What do these truckers want? 

Rupa Subramanya, a freelance columnist for National Post and Nikkei Asia based out of Ottawa, Canada, interviewed more than 100 truck drivers protesting in Ottawa to get their perspective. “What’s happening is far bigger than the vaccine mandates,” she writes in a Common Sense article, which profiles several of the drivers and protestors she interviewed. Here’s a snippet from the article:

The convoy is spearheaded by truckers, but its message of opposition to life under government control has brought onto the icy streets countless, once-voiceless people declaring that they are done being ignored. That the elites — the people who have Zoomed their way through the pandemic — had better start paying attention to the fentanyl overdoses, the suicides, the crime, the despair. Or else.

I recommend you read the full article for additional insights and perspectives from the front line.

Meanwhile, a similar trucker protest might be brewing here in the United States. “The Department of Homeland Security is warning U.S. law enforcement agencies that a group of truckers is planning a protest of COVID-19 vaccine mandates that could start as soon as this weekend in Los Angeles, site of the Super Bowl,” reports Nicole Sganga at CBS News. “The bulletin, obtained by CBS News, says the convoy could then head east, perhaps reaching Washington, D.C. in time for President Biden’s State of the Union address on March 1.”

It wasn’t that long ago that truck drivers were being called “unsung heroes of the coronavirus pandemic” (for example, see here, here, here). Now, they’re what? 

Just last month, this “Letter to the Editor” appeared in the Wall Street Journal:

Source: Wall Street Journal, Jan. 3, 2022

I don’t know if the writer has a direct personal connection to trucking or truck drivers, but assuming she doesn’t, it was great to see someone from the general public recognize the important role truck drivers play in delivering what we want/need — not only during the holidays, but every day (including during the height of the pandemic).

They’re still heroes in my book.

And with that, have a happy weekend!

Song of the Week: “Wild” by Spoon