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MGM raises testing costs for unvaccinated workers

Updated November 17, 2021 - 8:39 pm

One of the largest employers in Las Vegas is changing its COVID-19 testing protocols for unvaccinated employees.

Starting Nov. 22, MGM Resorts International will require unvaccinated hourly employees to pay $38 for each on-site COVID-19 test, which is half the cost the company pays, MGM CEO Bill Hornbuckle said in a letter to employees sent Tuesday. That’s up from the $15 co-pay charge from the company’s current policy that was announced in July.

Workers can choose to obtain a PCR or lab-based antigen test elsewhere, but self-testing kits will not be accepted. The policy does not affect employees who exclusively work from home.

Employees who don’t comply with the new protocol will be placed on unpaid leave and will not be able to work, the letter said.

The policy will only affect a fraction of MGM workers in Las Vegas, however. Hornbuckle said in the letter that 84 percent of the company’s hourly workforce has been vaccinated. It also requires newly hired hourly workers to be vaccinated.

“As I’ve stressed all year, if you’ve not yet been vaccinated, now’s the time,” Hornbuckle wrote. “If you’ve not been vaccinated, please make a plan to protect yourself, your loved ones, our guests, and your teammates from the virus.”

Hornbuckle said the company decided to make the change while they review the new Occupational Safety and Health Administration emergency order requiring private-sector employers with more than 100 employees to either mandate vaccines for staff or enact weekly testing requirements. Companies have until Dec. 4 to finalize those policies.

MGM implemented a vaccine mandate in October for its roughly 6,000 salaried workers nationwide, and 98 percent of those workers complied with the Oct. 15 deadline.

In a statement, the Culinary Local 226, which represents roughly 24,000 MGM employees in Las Vegas, said the union “will remain vigilant to ensure workers are protected at work, are actively negotiating with gaming companies to have agreements which reflect those goals, and we continue to urge hospitality employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine as they are safe, proven, and effective.”

Contact Colton Lochhead at clochhead@reviewjournal.com. Follow @ColtonLochhead on Twitter.

Bill.hornbuckle.letter.11.1… by Colton Lochhead

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