Enough is enough: Delta Air Lines is leveraging the damn healthcare plan to get employees vaccinated. If you want to work on their planes, and you’re on their health insurance, you’ll have to get the jab or pay $200 a month.
In an employee memo sent today, Delta CEO Ed Bastian framed the decision as a security deposit for potential covid-19-related medical bills, which oddly might be a more palatable argument for people railing against commie mandates.
“The average hospital stay for COVID-19 has cost Delta $50,000 per person,” Bastian said. “This surcharge will be necessary to address the financial risk the decision to not vaccinate is creating for our company.” He added that every Delta employee who’s been hospitalized due to covid-19 was not vaccinated. The company will start requiring the fee on November 1st, which is plenty of time to get two doses.
Effective September 30th, Delta will also only offer covid pay protection to vaccinated employees suffering from covid-19, “in compliance with state and local laws,” Bastian wrote.
But elsewhere, the memo doesn’t shy away from the obvious, which is that this is a health protocol necessary to keep a deadly virus from spreading around to those of its 459 destinations where travel is open. Bastian tactfully pointed to the “B.1.617.2 variant” (the, ahem, delta variant), noting that the spike of related deaths and hospitalizations clearly correlates with the unvaccinated population. Unvaccinated employees will be forced to wear masks “in Delta settings,” which extends its indoor mask requirement from customer-facing areas to employee-only areas like break rooms. By September 12th, those employees will also need to take weekly covid-19 tests.
Back in May, Delta already started requiring new hires to be vaccinated, and 75% of its workforce is already inoculated, Bastian said.
Unvaccinated employees wouldn’t find much wiggle room at a growing number of other airlines including United or Hawaii Airlines, which will accommodate religious and health exemptions but require negative test results. Frontier is also mandating regular testing for unvaccinated employees. Amtrak, Bank of America, Disney World, and CVS are among numerous other major employers with similar policies, of which Fortune is keeping a running list.
Employee lawsuits have rolled in and out of court. In June, a federal judge tossed out a suit brought by employees of a Texas hospital who’d compared vaccine mandates to heinous Nazi experiments, calling the argument “reprehensible.” Protracted legal warfare seems inevitable.