One of the nation’s largest air carriers, United Airlines, said 99% of its workforce is vaccinated against COVID-19 and less than 600 unvaccinated are facing termination under the company’s vaccine mandate.
NPR reported Tuesday that the airline may only have to fire 600 of its 67,000 employees for missing the Sept. 27 deadline to be vaccinated against the virus.
"This is a historic achievement for our airline and our employees as well as for the customers and communities we serve," United CEO Scott Kirby and President Brett Hart said in a memo to employees. "Our rationale for requiring the vaccine for all United's U.S.-based employees was simple — to keep our people safe — and the truth is this: everyone is safer when everyone is vaccinated, and vaccine requirements work."
According to the carrier, 90% of pilots and 80% of flight attendants already received the shots when it implemented the mandate on Aug. 6.
The NPR story said that some of the remaining 593 unvaccinated employees have applied for exemptions from the company mandated policy.
"For the less than 1% of people who decided to not get vaccinated, we'll unfortunately begin the process of separation from the airline per our policy," Kirby and Hart told employees in the memo.
Six employees have a federal lawsuit filed against the mandate, accusing the airline of discrimination against those who are asking to be exempted from the vaccine policy, violating the Civil Rights and Americans with Disabilities acts.
President Joe Biden is using the administration’s Department of Labor to mandate vaccinations for companies with more than 100 employees.
In addition to requiring vaccines for all military personnel and federal workers, the White House announced Sept. 9 that "the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is developing a rule that will require all employers with 100 or more employees to ensure their workforce is fully vaccinated or require any workers who remain unvaccinated to produce a negative test result on at least a weekly basis before coming to work. OSHA will issue an Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) to implement this requirement. This requirement will impact over 80 million workers in private sector businesses with 100+ employees."
The measure, which will impact 80 million Americans, caused tension between the White House and the agency because labor employees were not consulted on the plan, according to a story in Time.
"It’s been a very frustrating nine months for OSHA," former deputy assistant secretary of labor for OSHA, Jordan Barab, said in the Time story, referencing a series of instructions from the Biden administration, including the most recent plan for a vaccine, and testing mandate. "This whole thing was basically thought up in the White House."
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