The union representing pilots for American Airlines warned the company could face a staffing shortage ahead of the busy holiday travel season if it implements a stringent COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
The Allied Pilots Association requested that American Airlines find “alternate means of compliance with the Executive Order be made available for professional pilots” so as not to prompt mass firings and unpaid leave following President Joe Biden's September announcement mandating large employers to require vaccinations or weekly testing.
“Some of APA’s members are unable to undergo vaccination for documented medical reasons, while others are reluctant to get vaccinated based upon concerns about the potential for career-ending side effects,” read the Sept. 24 letter.
“All of those members are still able to perform their duties as professional pilots,” the letter continued. “To force those pilots out of their positions, rather than offering viable alternatives will have adverse consequences upon their families and the airline industry as a whole.”
As of Wednesday, the APA was hopeful that it could negotiate exemptions despite the company’s looming deadline, saying it “fully expects American Airlines management to continue its historical practice of bargaining with APA over issues related to the implementation and impact of the announced COVID-19 vaccine mandate.”
American Airlines, along with several other major airlines, said it would fully comply with the mandate’s goal of having all employees vaccinated. The deadline for staff to submit proof of vaccination is Nov. 24, the day before Thanksgiving.
While Biden's vaccine mandate has been adopted by many major companies, some on the Right have pushed back on the concept, with many GOP-led states, such as Florida and Texas, banning the use of vaccine passports.
There have been more than 44 million cases of COVID-19 in the United States, and 187.2 million people are fully vaccinated against the disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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Original Author: Virginia Aabram