After Airline's New Penalty, More Workers Get Shots

Delta imposes $200 monthly surcharge on the unvaccinated
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 10, 2021 10:36 AM CDT
Airline's Employee Penalty Boosts Vaccination Numbers
People sit under Delta sign at Salt Lake City International Airport on July 1, 2021.   (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, file)

Delta Air Lines' push to have unvaccinated workers get the jab appears to be working. Some 20% of the airline's unvaccinated employees have received a coronavirus vaccine in the two weeks since Delta announced that unvaccinated workers who get health insurance through the airline will face a $200 monthly surcharge, said chief health officer Dr. Henry Ting, per CNBC. "I think [that's] a huge number in terms of shifting that group that's most reluctant." The professor emeritus at the Mayo Clinic School of Medicine noted 20,000 of the airline's 80,000 workers have yet to receive a shot.

Some are on the fence, some "simply don't want to be told what to do," but "many of them have a lot of misinformation and are afraid," said Ting, per the Atlanta Journal Constitution, noting he was meeting one-on-one with such people. A survey by the Society for Human Resource Management found 28% of workers would rather leave their jobs than be forced to get the vaccine. But "the great resignation movement is typically not related to the vaccine," said SHRM's chief knowledge officer, Alexander Alonso, per Bloomberg. Employers estimate less than 2% of employees have left their jobs after vaccines were ordered or encouraged.

Bloomberg describes Delta as "the first major US employer to levy a penalty" on unvaccinated workers. But Ting said "we've seen no employee turnover" as a result of the surcharge, to take effect Nov. 1. Ting also said the airline had no trouble acquiring 6,000 new hires, who are required to be vaccinated. Meanwhile, airlines including Delta, American, Southwest, and United have lowered their revenue expectations following reduced bookings in August, per the Hill. "While the environment remains choppy, booking trends have stabilized in the last 10 days and the recovery is expected to resume as case counts decline," Atlanta-based Delta said in a Thursday filing. (More Delta Air Lines stories.)

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