Business group warns of mass layoffs and ‘catastrophic’ supply chain disruptions from Biden’s vaccine mandate

Business group warns of mass layoffs and ‘catastrophic’ supply chain disruptions from Biden’s vaccine mandate

President Joe Biden’s vaccine order will force employers to lay off thousands of workers, making the supply-chain crisis much worse, a major business group warned the White House this week.

The National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors, an influential trade group that represents an industry with nearly 6 million workers, is pleading with the administration to delay a December 8 deadline for employees of federal contractors to get vaccinated. “If tens or hundreds of thousands of employees are terminated just two weeks before Christmas…the result could be nothing short of catastrophic for the newly unemployed and their families and for the US economy,” Eric Hoplin, the NAW’s president and CEO, wrote in a Wednesday letter to Biden.

The trade group’s members include grocers, lumber, florists, beer, wine and various other distributors. The Biden executive order, signed last month, requires employees of contractors that do business with the federal government to get vaccinated against Covid-19, with no option of being regularly tested to opt out. The order, which applies to subcontractors as well, is aimed at preventing the spread of Covid-19. To avoid a “calamity,” the NAW urged Biden to provide alternatives, including testing, and to consider a “short-term delay” to avoid further disruption to supply chains.

In response, the White House pointed to comments made this week by Jeff Zients, the administration’s coronavirus response coordinator. “Vaccination requirements work. They’ve increased vaccination rates by 20-plus percentage points to over 90% in most organizations,” Zients told reporters this week. Zients pointed out that the first step for employees who do not get vaccinated is a “period of education and counseling,” not termination.