WINNING: Southwest Gives Into Pro-Freedom Protestors, Reverses Decision To Put Unvaccinated Staff On Unpaid Leave
One day after an employee-led protest against the company’s vaccine mandate, Southwest Airlines has canceled a plan to place unvaccinated employees who requested for but were denied religious or medical exemptions on unpaid leave beginning in December to meet a federal deadline imposed by tyrannical American dictator Joe Biden.
Southwest Airlines and American Airlines are federal contractors and are required by the Biden administration to vaccinate their personnel against Covid-19 by Dec. 8, unless they are exempt for medical or religious grounds. Federal contractors are subject to stronger regulations than other large enterprises, which will allow for routine Covid testing in replacement of vaccination.
Both carriers’ executives have attempted to reassure employees about their job security under the mandate in recent days, pushing them to file for exemptions if they are unable to get vaccinated due to medical reasons or a truly held religious conviction. When airlines announce quarterly earnings Thursday morning, they are expected to face additional concerns regarding the mandate. Pilot labor unions have attempted to stop the mandates or have proposed alternatives like as routine testing.
Southwest’s senior vice president of operations and hospitality, Steve Goldberg, and Julie Weber, vice president and chief people officer, wrote to employees on Friday that if their requests for exemptions are not approved by Dec. 8, they may continue working while adhering to mask and distancing guidelines.
Employees have until Nov. 24 to complete their vaccines or apply for an exemption. Southwest will continue to pay them while the firm examines their requests, and those who are denied will be allowed to work “while we work with them to meet the requirements (vaccine or valid accommodation).”
“This is a change from what was previously communicated. Initially, we communicated that these Employees would be put on unpaid leave and that is no longer the case,” they wrote in the note, according to CNBC.
Southwest acknowledged the change in policy, which comes just weeks before the deadline.
United Airlines adopted its own vaccination requirement in August, a month ahead of the government’s announcement. United had informed employees that employees who received exemptions to not get vaccinated would be placed on unpaid leave. Over 96 percent of its workforce is immunized. Certain employees sued the airline over the unpaid leave, and a federal judge in Fort Worth, Texas, has temporarily halted the airline’s plans.
On Thursday, American Airlines CEO Doug Parker, met with labor union officials to explore vaccine exemptions.
Unlike United, American Airlines management “indicated that they were exploring accommodations that would allow employees to continue to work,” the Association of Professional Flight Attendants, the union that represents American’s mainline cabin crews, wrote in a statement to members Monday. “They failed to offer any specifics as to what such accommodations might look like at that time.”
Hundreds of Southwest employees, customers, and other demonstrators demonstrated Monday outside Southwest Airlines’ Dallas headquarters against the vaccine mandate, according to the Dallas Morning News.
The airline, according to a spokesman, is aware of the demonstration.
“Southwest acknowledges various viewpoints regarding the Covid-19 vaccine, and we have always supported, and will continue to support, our employees’ right to express themselves, with open lines of communication to share issues and concerns,” she said.
Southwest’s Goldberg and Weber advised employees that if their request for exemption is denied, they may reapply if they have “new information or circumstances” that the Company should consider.
Southwest and American Airlines both require vaccinations of new hires for their mainline operations, spokespeople said.
Delta Air Lines is likewise a federal contractor subject to government regulations, although it has not yet mandated vaccinations for its employees. The carrier revealed last week that approximately 90% of its approximately 80,000 employees are immunized. Delta stated in August that unvaccinated employees would begin paying an additional $200 per month for corporate health insurance in November.
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