United Airlines is in the process of sacking hundreds of employees who refused to be vaccinated against COVID-19, CEO Scott Kirby said on Wednesday amid growing controversy over vaccine mandates at major airlines.
Talking with CBS today morning, Kirby said 99.7% of the Chicago-based airline’s 67,000 US employees have found jobs since its vaccine requirement was announced on Aug.
At the time the mandate was introduced, the airline said Roughly speaking 90% of its pilots and 80% of its flight attendants had already been vaccinated.
Nearly 600 workers were still refusing the jab end of september, but that number has since dropped to 232, all of which are now undergoing a “termination process,” according to Kirby.
It comes amid a week of controversy over vaccine mandates at major airlines, which have been forced to require the shot following an order from President Biden mandating employee vaccinations for all federal contractors. The need prompted a reaction among some Republicans in Congress after Southwest Airlines canceled thousands of flights over the weekend and on Monday. Although Southwest experienced bad weather and disruption to a traffic management program put in place by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), many speculated that the cancellation was actually due to internal conflicts over vaccine requirements (the company’s pilots union said that the cancellations were due to an internal opposition to the vaccine). had previously asked a court to restrain Southwest from implementing the mandate). As the controversy unfolded, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, signed an executive order Monday that banned any state entity—including private businesses—from instituting a vaccine mandate. Southwest Airlines and American Airlines, both of which are based in Texas, have indicated that they both plan to follow orders from the federal government rather than Abbott.
Kirby praised that his company didn’t have to worry about duel orders because of how quickly its mandate was introduced. “The fact that we can get to 99.7% in less than eight weeks proves that as long as you’re open and honest with people about why you’re doing this,” Kirby said.
A federal judge late Tuesday night temporary stop United Airlines plans to put employees on unpaid leave who requested exemptions from the company’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate. About 2,000 workers (less than 3% of the workforce) requested exemptions from the mandate, according to CNN. Six of those employees sued to request being placed on the payroll. A joint spokesperson said in a statement Businesshala The decision will have no effect on the dismissal of hundreds of employees who refuse the vaccine.
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