Cliffs called ‘very responsible, smart’ after successful vaccination program at Middletown Works

About 75% of the employees at Middletown Works are vaccinated, according to Cleveland-Cliffs. The employees received a $1,500 incentive to get vaccinated. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF
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About 75% of the employees at Middletown Works are vaccinated, according to Cleveland-Cliffs. The employees received a $1,500 incentive to get vaccinated. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

Company sees 75% of its employees vaccinated after offering incentive developed in partnership with its labor unions.

After Cleveland-Cliffs implemented a COVID-19 vaccination incentive program, 75% of the Middletown Works employees were vaccinated, nearly 30% higher than the rest of Butler County.

In July, the company, formerly AK Steel, launched a vaccine incentive program that it developed in partnership with its labor unions, including the United Steelworkers, the United Autoworkers, and the International Association of Machinists, according to the company.

The intent of the program was to protect the workforce by providing employees with a positive incentive to get vaccinated, the company said. Under the program, Cliffs committed to pay an employee $1,500 to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

Jackie Phillips, Middletown health commissioner, praised Cliffs for being proactive in the fight against the coronavirus. She said the company has worked closely with the city’s health department.

“We are very excited when we receive help from businesses and the community with these types of efforts,” Phillips said. “The company is very, very responsible, smart organization.”

She said Cliffs probably will have fewer COVID-19 cases and those vaccinated employees will be less likely to spread the virus to their families and throughout the community.

“If one person tests positive, they don’t sit at home alone,” she said. “The virus snowballs into the schools and businesses.”

Cliffs achieved a total vaccination rate of 75%, or nearly 19,000 employees out of its workforce of approximately 25,000.

Also, 27 of the company’s 43 locations achieved a vaccination rate of at least 75%. When the program was launched, the company-wide vaccination rate was 35%, or about 9,000 employees.

“I am delighted with the success of our vaccine incentive program,” said Lourenco Goncalves, chairman, president, and CEO said. “I appreciate the support of our local managers and union partners in making herd immunity a reality at the majority of our locations. I implore both my steel-producing peers and all other companies who have not already done so to implement similar programs, in order to defeat this nasty virus in our country once and for all.”