Love them or hate them, vaccine mandates are worsening the labor shortage where we can least afford it.

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Photo by Braňo on Unsplash.

Ah; the holidays. What a glorious time of year.

From the Jewish high holy celebration of Hanukkah, to the Christian and secular celebrations of Christmas, to the meaning-imbued traditions of Kwanza; there is much to be enjoyed during the festive winter Holiday season.

For many, it is a time of hope and family; of renewal, religious observance and rejuvenation. For small business owners in the retail industry, it is often an opportunity to make ends meet for the rest of the year.

The 2021 make-or-break holiday retail season is even more fraught than ever- more fraught even than the many unknowns of Christmas Past 2020. This year, small business owners and the working-class are facing a giant rolling snowball of challenges: All the terrors of COVID-19 circa 2020, plus new variants, and a labor shortage, supply chain issues, rising inflation, a growing crime problem and higher fuel prices.

Across multiple key industries, vaccine holdouts are pushing the labor shortage to its breaking point. Stores everywhere, large and small, are having to shorten their hours of operation, close and/or restructure their workforce in order to cope with the shortage.

It isn’t enough.

The airline industry has experienced several high-profile instances of a labor shortage causing major disruptions.

Interviewed under condition of anonymity, one person purporting to be a Southwest pilot recently chalked the problem up to employee dissatisfaction over vaccine mandates.

“Chafing under these new rules,” he said, “employees are more likely to use their sick days, rather than lose them, more likely to call in sick when they aren’t, and more likely to refuse to sign-up for overtime.”

Southwest, perhaps more so than other airlines, does have a tendency to rely on its pilots and other staff members to come through during peak times by signing up for overtime.

The vaccine mandates are falling heaviest on small business owners and key industries already experiencing serious labor shortages.

In addition to periodic shut downs during the pandemic, expensive new safety protocols and equipment, inflation, crime, critical staff shortages and supply line issues, working-class small business owners now have the extra burden of mandating vaccines for whatever employees they’ve been lucky enough to scrape together.

Besides the current sick-outs, which appear to be spreading, there are more problems being anticipated due to vaccine mandates.

Chicago, which according to some local authorities currently looks like Afghanistan on a bad day, may be about to go from very bad to much worse.

The Chicago Police Department and members of the Fraternal Order of Police have fought hard against vaccine mandates, threatening walk-outs and even strikes.

The Chicago PD and the police union have city leaders over a barrel and everyone in Chicago knows it. Crime in Chicago has ballooned over the past year, with property and violent crime growing well beyond anything seen in recent years, if ever.

Chicago’s once Magnificent Mile shopping district saw so many brazen robberies, authorities were forced to raise the bridge and close-off the area completely. Chicago can’t afford to lose a single cop to vaccine mandates.

Chicago streets have already seen a drastic reduction in police presence over the past year. Some critical staff shortages are due to cuts in police budgets following an outcry to “defund police” after the killing of George Floyd. Other staff shortages are happening because moral within police departments has probably never been lower.

Officers near retirement have retired; officers considering leaving the force, left; officers eligible for transfer, transferred to other police departments in smaller cities and towns, taking a pay-cut for an environment perceived to be friendlier to police officers and safer in general.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot was quick to dismiss rumors of police walk-outs as unfounded, but then again, she would hardly to do well to warn Chicago’s thriving criminal element of the possibility.

With labor shortages squeezing law enforcement, health care workers, small businesses, the airline industry and other essential areas, vaccine mandates are seen by many as unnecessary, coercive and ineffective.

Others are not only perfectly fine with vaccine mandates, they are advocating using the military to force people to take the vaccine and the federal legal system to prosecute holdouts if they refuse due to medical or religious reasons.

While the public seems to be sharply divided on the subject, the U.S. court system has so far been unfriendly to vaccine mandates in general.

On the subject of vaccine mandates, as in so many other areas in the age of COVID-19, it is to be hoped that cooler heads will eventually prevail and the most extreme voices, on either side of the debate, won’t be given undue influence by media companies anxious to increase ad-clicks.

(contributing writer, Brooke Bell)