Early signs show that most public workers are complying with the vaccine mandate, but questions still remain as to how exemptions will be handled.
Hawaii says that as of August 16, 98.6% of the workers are complying with the mandate. Out of nearly 14,000 workers, more than a thousand are vaccinated, 87 filed for exemption, and 11 were put on leave without pay for not turning in their forms.
As for the counties, Honolulu has not released the data. The firefighters union says they have 51 members out of 1,100 in Honolulu who have not submitted their forms. They’re being told to apply for an exemption and waiting for the City to make the next move.
“We haven’t seen any feedback yet as far as how they’re processing these exemptions and to what extent they’re going to. So we’re just in the dark like everybody else right now,” said Aaron Lenchanko, Hawaii Fire Fighters Association Treasurer.
The police officers union says they’ve met with Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi to get details, but those are still being worked out.
“Everything is changing daily. But now that the deadline has passed, now is the time that we’re going to see. We’re going to try to keep in touch with him and reach out to him to find out what protocol we’re going to use,” said Malcolm Lutu, SHOPO President.
The mayor has said in the past that the City will meet with the workers who aren’t complying and talk to them to work out a solution. So any punishment such as suspension or dismissal would likely not happen until the end of next month.
The unions say the sooner the City figures out what rules need to be followed, the easier it will be for workers to comply.
Other employers asking workers to get vaccinated are charging those who don’t comply more for health insurance. Delta Airlines announced that unvaccinated workers will pay $200 more a month. Hawaii officials say it will be hard to do that here.
“I think it will be much more challenging because Hawaii has prepaid healthcare, and there is a cap as to what employers can charge employees,” said Sherry Menor-McNamara, Chamber of Commerce Hawaii President.
Hawaii businesses are more likely to go with a vaccine mandate.
“We’ll probably be seeing a momentum of businesses implementing that kind of mandate,” said Menor-McNamara.