The National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA) was one of multiple industry associations that recently signed an open letter to President Joe Biden urging him to take actions that will resolve the supply chain crisis.
The letter — signed by groups from nearly every industry, including wine, chemicals, and agriculture — calls on Biden to take action on five recommended items to counteract the current supply chain disruptions. The roofing industry in particular has experienced price hikes and supply shortages that have caused jobs to be delayed for months, most notably following Hurricane Ida.
“As business leaders and proud Americans, we are firmly committed to this country's economic recovery. We are working to usher in a return to normalcy and striving to help all Americans enjoy a better way of life by providing them with access to the essential products and supplies they need,” the letter states.
Among the actions recommended is more flexibility with COVID-19 vaccine mandates. Earlier this month, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration published an emergency temporary standard that requires businesses with 100 or more employees to either vaccinate their workers or have them undergo regular testing. The new rule has been temporarily stayed by a lawsuit filed by Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry.
In the open letter, the industry groups say the new mandate will cripple an already strained supply chain, estimating that companies covered by the mandate could lose 37% of truck drivers. The letter states the nation is already short by 80,000 truck drivers.
“We ask for flexibility for transportation and supply chain essential workers, particularly truck drivers who spend most of their time in their trucks and have minimal contact with colleagues and customers,” the letter states.
The recommended actions also include a pilot program for attracting younger commercial drivers to the various industries. This could take the form of a two-stage, safety-focused apprenticeship program for qualified drivers between the ages of 18 and 20 to operate interstate commerce. Similarly, the letter calls for federal agencies to promote careers in transportation and the supply chain.
The letter also asks that the administration retain changes made to hours of service regulations that give truck drivers greater flexibility while improving safety.
In remarks made on Oct. 13, Biden announced the Port of Los Angeles will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week to help speed up the logistical supply chain. Around 40% of shipping containers that the U.S. imports come through the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports. FedEx and UPS also committed to increasing the number of items they ship at night.
“We need to take a longer view, though, that invests in building greater resilience to withstand the kinds of shocks we’ve seen over and over, year in and year out, whether it’s the pandemic, extreme weather, climate change, cyberattacks, or other disruptions,” Biden said.