In less than 48-hours of being told they faced being terminated, 273 unvaccinated United Airlines workers submitted proof they had received a COVID-19 shot to meet the airline’s strict vaccine mandate requirements.
On Tuesday, United Airlines said it would immediately start the process of terminating nearly 600 employees who had refused to comply with the vaccine mandate by the September 27 deadline.
But vaccine-hesitant employees were given one last chance to save their jobs by proving they were fully vaccinated before their formal termination meetings are scheduled. Employees can comply with the mandate by getting the single-shot J&J Janssen jab at any point before their termination meeting is scheduled.
That last chance saloon drove 273 workers to get the COVID-19 shot within less than 48-hours of being put on notice. As a result, the number of unvaccinated employees who don’t have an approved exemption has dropped from 593 to 320 workers.
Those 320 unvaccinated and unexempted employees still remain at risk of being sacked and their termination meetings could be scheduled at any moment.
On Wednesday, the Air Lines Pilots Association (ALPA) which represents flight crew at the Chicago-based carrier threw its weight behinds United’s tough vaccine stance, saying it supported the need for vaccine mandates.
Captain Joe DePete, the union’s president said in a series of tweets that vaccines were “critical to the world’s recovery” from the pandemic.
“As a union, ALPA will continue defending and protecting the rights of pilots –– as it always has – and bargain over the implementation of employer-mandated vaccines, where appropriate,” Capt DePete continued.
ALPA has not demanded concessions to United’s mandate which stands in contrast to both the American Airlines and Southwest pilots unions who want exemptions for pilots written into any federal or local vaccine mandate.
The two unions are lobbying the White House for an “alternative means of compliance” such as regular testing or mask-wearing. The Allied Pilots Union (APA) has raised the possibility that Christmas travel could be disrupted if pilots are forced to be vaccinated.
Around 99.5 per cent of United’s non-exempt U.S.-based employees are now vaccinated. Around 2,000 workers successfully applied for a religious or medical exemption but United has delayed forcing them onto unpaid leave while a lawsuit is challenged.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.