OKEMOS - A small number of employees at Delta Dental held a protest outside the building on Okemos Road on Friday, November 19th.
The protest began was because employees did not want to be required to get the COVID-19 vaccine, which a federal vaccine mandate is scheduled to begin early next year on January 4th.
Delta Dental meets the legal definition of a federal sub-contractor and provides access to oral health care to federal employees, uniformed service members, retirees, and dependents under multiple contracts with the federal government. Delta has contracts with federal healthcare programs which account for 30% of the company’s book of business, with hundreds of employees working on or associated with these programs. The staff has been working tirelessly to find other options and have been unsuccessful. Company leaders met with employees on two virtual town hall meetings earlier this week to explain the mandate, and provide a safe space to share thoughts and answer questions.
“We do not believe anyone should lose their livelihood because of a personal decision to vaccinate or not. At the same time, we have to comply with the mandate because we cannot fathom losing our federal business and having to let go of hundreds of employees,” said Goran Jurkovic, the CEO of Delta Dental of Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana.
Jurkovic believes the vaccine is the best way to end the pandemic, but does not agree with the mandate on employers and added, “We have worked hard to keep the health and safety of our staff our top priority throughout the pandemic. Thanks to our existing policies and strict protocols that follow CDC guidelines, we have kept our more than 1200 employees safe. We respect everyone’s freedom to vaccinate or not. However, we believe we have no choice but to comply to stay in business.”
All federal and sub-contractors must compel employees to be vaccinated or forfeit their jobs by January 18th.