United Airlines jobs are praising the success of its COVID-19 vaccine policy, claiming that more than 99 percent of its U.S.-based employees have gotten vaccinated or applied for a religious or medical exemption. But the fewer than 600 United employees who did not get vaccinated by the airline’s deadline of Sept. 27 now face termination.
“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.”
United said on August 6 that all 67,000 of its employees in the United States would be required to be vaccinated. The airline said at the time that roughly 90% of pilots and 80% of flight attendants jobs had already been inoculated.
After seven weeks, United claims that about 2,000 employees, or less than 3% of the company’s US workforce, had requested religious or medical accommodations. Those employees were scheduled to be placed on an unpaid leave of absence on Oct. 2, but the airline has postponed that date while a federal lawsuit contesting the policy is being heard in court.
United says 593 employees have not been vaccinated, nor have they applied for an exemption. “For the less than 1% of people who decided not to get vaccinated, we’ll, unfortunately, begin the process of separation from the airline per our policy,” Kirby and Hart told employees in the memo.
Their letter thanks “the tens of thousands of employees who got their shot,” adding, “we know for some, that decision was a reluctant one. But there’s no doubt in our minds that some of you will have avoided a future hospital stay – or even death – because you got vaccinated.”
On August 6, weeks before President Biden’s comprehensive vaccine mandate, United stated that employees would be required to acquire the COVID-19 vaccine jobs. Employees at Hawaiian and Frontier Airlines must also be immunized.
Although Delta Air Lines does not require immunizations, it announced in August that unvaccinated employees would face a $200 monthly health insurance fee. Since then, Biden has ordered that all U.S. businesses with more than 100 employees be vaccinated or tested for COVID regularly. The pilots’ unions at Southwest and American Airlines, on the other hand, are requesting that the White House exempt pilots from the rule.
According to the Allied Pilots Association, around 30% of America’s 14,000 pilots have not received vaccinations, and mass terminations of unvaccinated pilots might result in a major shortage of pilots during the busy Christmas season in November and December.