05/18/2021 / By Arsenio Toledo
Delta Air Lines has required all of its new employees to get the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine, making it one of the first and largest companies in the United States to mandate vaccinations.
“Any person joining Delta in the future – future employees – we’re going to mandate they be vaccinated before they can sign up with the company,” said Delta CEO Ed Bastian during an interview.
The company claimed that the vaccine mandate will ensure that the airline can safely operate while at the same time protecting its employees and customers from the coronavirus. (Related: Businesses threaten to push mandatory coronavirus vaccinations for employees.)
A Delta spokesman said that the vaccine requirement will not be imposed on the company’s current employees. The spokesman said that around 60 percent of Delta’s nearly 75,000 employees have already been vaccinated. Bastian said he expects around 80 percent of the company’s entire workforce will get vaccinated.
During the interview, Bastian noted that it would not be fair to his current employees to make vaccination a requirement for them to keep their jobs, especially “if there’s some philosophical issue they have.”
“I’m not going to mandate and force people if they have some specific reason why they don’t want to get vaccinated, but I’m going to strongly encourage them and make sure they understand the risks to not getting vaccinated,” he said.
Current Delta employees who choose to not get the vaccine will be required to get tested at least once a week for COVID-19 and will likely be prohibited from working on international flights. Bastian said this is because foreign governments might require vaccinations for anybody entering their countries.
“It signals confidence that we’re doing everything we can to keep [employees] safe as well as to keep our customers safe because customers knew Delta employees were being tested all throughout the process,” said Bastian of the company’s testing and vaccination regulations.
Bastian had his interview at the Delta Flight Museum in Atlanta, near the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. The airline has loaned this facility to Georgia to turn it into one of the state’s largest mass COVID-19 vaccination sites. Bastian said the site is administering roughly 5,000 doses of the coronavirus vaccine per day.
United Airlines might soon follow Delta in requiring vaccines, but it hasn’t ordered workers or customers to show proof of vaccination yet. Back in January, CEO Scott Kirby reportedly told his employees that mandating vaccinations would be “the right thing to do.”
American Airlines has so far shied away from making it company policy to get the COVID-19 vaccine, but it has incentivized vaccinations by giving employees who get the vaccine an extra day off next year. Vaccinated workers are also eligible to receive $50 from American Airlines’ employee recognition program.
More companies are willing to mandate vaccinations for their employees.
According to a survey released late in April by the Rockefeller Foundation and Arizona State University’s College of Health Solutions, business leaders believed getting their employees vaccinated should be their top priority.
Around 88 percent of the 1,339 employers surveyed said they were planning to require or strongly encourage their employees to get vaccinated against the coronavirus.
Sixty percent of employers said they will require employees to procure proof of vaccination and 57 percent said they will provide incentives and bribes to get their employees vaccinated.
Much of the private sector is still rightfully recognizing the rights of its workers to not get vaccinated, with the exception of certain sectors such as education. Experts believe many businesses are wondering whether it would be legal to mandate vaccinations.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) ruled late in 2020 that mandating vaccinations for employees would be legal, provided that companies provide “reasonable accommodation” for employees who are unable to get vaccinated for their religious belief, practice or observance or due to a disability.
Learn more about the incoming vaccine mandates in the private sector by reading the latest articles at Vaccines.news.
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