Vaccine Mandate May Worsen Trucker Shortage

Oil-field service companies navigate realities of employee turnover and COVID-19.

October 01, 2021

Oil Tanker Truck on the Road

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—The ongoing truck driver shortage has touched nearly every industry in the U.S. and abroad, and the oil-field services industry in particular is worried that the coming Biden Administration mandate for U.S. COVID-19 vaccinations or regular testing will prompt highly sought after truckers to quit, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Oil-field firms told the Journal that the majority of the truck drivers who haul fracking supplies, along with field-level workers, aren’t inoculated against COVID-19 and are wary of the shots. Many see quitting their jobs as their only option.

Trucking firms are offering sign-on and retention bonuses to attract and retain drivers. The labor crunch has firms raising wages and turning down jobs because they can’t meet the demand.

President Biden on Sept. 9 announced a sweeping vaccine mandate for federal employees and contractors, plus companies with more than 100 employees as part of a White House action plan to address the latest rise in COVID-19 cases in the United States. Here are five ways companies can prepare for the workplace vaccine mandate.

Guidance from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is still pending on the mandate.

Rising labor costs have driven up the price of goods and services across the nation. About 57% of oil-field services companies surveyed by the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas said they’d raised pay and benefits during the third quarter, and about half of those surveyed cited problems hiring qualified workers.

“Wages are up 20%,” one executive said in the Dallas Fed survey. “We are finding it difficult to increase prices to match our increase in costs.”

In the United Kingdom, petrol stations are kept waiting for critical fuel supplies due to a shortage of truck drivers.

As NACS Magazine shares in the October 2021 issue, the shortage of truck drivers in the U.S. has carriers trying to tap into underleveraged talent pools, including women.