The American Trucking Associations officially weighed in on growing turmoil at the U.S.-Canada border as demonstrations that started as trucker protests against the vaccine mandate spiral into costly supply chain delays.
“ATA strongly opposes any protest activities that disrupt public safety and compromise the economic and national security of the United States,” ATA President and CEO Chris Spear said in a statement issued Thursday.
“We held serious concerns about the unintended impact a vaccine mandate would have on our nation’s supply chain and ongoing COVID response efforts, which is why ATA challenged the OSHA rule all the way to the Supreme Court — where we prevailed.
“We’ll continue to advocate on behalf of our members for policies that enable the industry to keep the supply chain moving, and we’ll do so in ways that do not hinder the safe and timely flow of commerce that everybody depends on.”
Also on Thursday, the Teamsters Union called on demonstration organizers to end the protest and work with the Canadian government to find a solution.
“Our economy is growing under the Biden Administration, and this disruption in international trade threatens to derail the gains we have made. Our members are some of the hardest workers in the country and are being prevented from doing their jobs,” said Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa.
Canada closed its border on Jan. 15 to U.S. truck drivers who could not show proof of vaccination. The U.S. imposed the same restriction on Canadian drivers the following week.
While some large truckload carriers like those represented by ATA are not seeing a significant issue with unvaccinated drivers, anecdotally the mandates have had a disproportionate effect on owner-operators.
Earlier this week the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association called on both President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to lift the cross-border vaccination mandates for its members, calling them “short-sighted policies that disrupt commerce, put truckers out of work and create shortages for essential supplies.”
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Responding specifically to the protests and demonstrations in Canada that began in response to the mandates, OOIDA emphasized that as a nonprofit trade association “we support our members’ choices to legally and peacefully protest but we do not participate,” Norita Taylor, OOIDA’s director of public relations, told FreightWaves.
“We will continue to push for the issues important to them long after any protests are over. We would like for leaders in D.C. to listen to, and take action on, the concerns of truck drivers that have been expressed to them for years such as the truck parking shortage, detention time, retention of drivers and government overreach.”
The protests and cross-border delays, meanwhile, are starting to disrupt automobile production, according to news reports. Trucking bottlenecks have extended beyond the Ambassador Bridge to the Blue Water Bridge linking Port Huron, Michigan, to Sarnia, Ontario.
FreightWaves reporting from the area on Thursday revealed that backups at the bridge are adding hours to freight-hauling drive times and raising carrier costs.
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