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37% of unvaccinated workers would quit job over mandate: survey

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More than a third of unvaccinated workers say they would quit their job if their employer implemented a COVID-19 vaccine mandate with an option to be tested weekly instead, according to a new survey released Thursday by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

About 37 percent of unvaccinated workers, representing almost 5 percent of all US adults, said they would quit their job rather than comply, the survey found.

When the option to be tested weekly is removed, a whopping 72 percent of unvaccinated workers said they would leave their job before complying with an employer-issued mandate, according to the survey.

Despite the vocal opposition to such mandates, just a fraction of workers have actually left their jobs over employee mandates that are already in place, the survey found.

About one-quarter of all workers surveyed by KFF in October said their company has issued a vaccine mandate, up from just 9 percent in June and 19 percent in September. 

Still, only 5 percent of unvaccinated workers, or 1 percent of all adults, say they have quit as a result of a COVID-19 vaccine requirement, according to KFF.

pro vax protester
Some protesters have shown an equal passion as their anti-vax counterparts in favor of the vaccine.
David Dee Delgado/Getty Images

The survey, which included 1,519 people 18 and older in the US and was conducted from Oct. 18 to Oct. 24, only asked whether people have quit because of a vaccine mandate, but not whether they had done so with a jab requirement that came with a testing option.

Last month, President Joe Biden announced a sweeping order for businesses with 100 or more employees to require their workers get vaccinated against COVID-19 or tested weekly.

The mandate is still under review as federal agencies like the Occupational Safety and Health Administration craft legal requirements to implement it. It is expected to affect most workers in the country.

KFF COVID-19 vaccine monitor
About 37 percent of unvaccinated workers said they would quit their job rather than comply.
Kaiser Family Foundation

A slightly more targeted order that applies to federal employees and government contractors, including airlines, defense manufacturers and certain shipping companies, requires that those companies make sure their workers are vaccinated by Dec. 8.

That requirement has faced mounting opposition from Republican politicians and powerful trade associations, which say that the order will further damage the already snarled global supply chain that’s led to price hikes and shortages across pockets of the US.

Various business groups have noted that questions remain about the specifics of the requirement, such as whether some workers will be exempt from it, what qualifies as an acceptable testing program and how vaccination documents should be collected.

Kyrie Irving Nets protesters
Protesters outside the Barclays Center show their support of the Nets’ Kyrie Irving, who is being prohibited by the team from playing until he is vaccinated.
© John Marshall Mantel/ZUMA Press Wire

The National Retail Federation has asked the White House for a 90-day implementation period after those questions are answered so their members can hammer out the details of their own vaccination requirements.

The American Trucking Associations, which met with the White House’s Office of Management and Budget on Tuesday, warned the administration last week that many drivers will likely quit rather than get vaccinated.

Trucking companies covered by the mandate could lose some 37 percent of drivers through retirements, resignations and workers switching to smaller companies not covered by the vaccine mandate, the association estimated.

Other groups, including the Retail Industry Leaders Association and the powerful National Association of Manufacturers, have also expressed concern about the timing of the mandate.

vaccine mandate
About a quarter of workers say their employer has required them to get vaccinated.
Kaiser Family Foundation

And the CEO of Raytheon, a conglomerate that makes jet engines, missiles and drones, added Tuesday that the mandate could further snarl the global supply chain, which is already struggling to keep up with demands.

“We certainly expect that there will be some disruption in both the supply chain and with our customers as a result of this,” Raytheon CEO Gregory Hayes warned Tuesday. “But we’re going to work our way through it.”

“It’s just harder to get material in the door on time. We’re also seeing, of course, labor shortages in our supply chain, which is also slowing down input,” he added.

“I think that’s going to be a continuing problem into next year. And the vaccine mandate is probably not going to help that.”

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