Dallas (AP) – United Airlines says the number of employees facing termination for refusing to vaccinate against COVID-19 has dropped by nearly half to 320 after more than 67,000 of its US workers provided proof of vaccination Huh.
A spokesman for the airline said Thursday that the declining number of possible shots fired shows the company’s policy of requiring vaccinations is working.
United Airlines announced in August Describing it as an important safety measure, US workers would need to be vaccinated. Employees faced a deadline this Monday for uploading images of their vaccination cards showing they had received at least one shot.
The airline said on Tuesday that 593 employees faced dismissal. On Thursday, United downplayed that number, saying more than 99% of its employees have either vaccinated or applied for medical or religious exemptions. Those whose exemption requests are approved will be placed on medical or other leave conditions and may lose their income.
“Our vaccine policy continues to prove the requirements work,” spokeswoman Leslie Scott said in a statement. “In less than 48 hours, the number of unaffiliated employees who started the process of separation from the company has nearly halved.”
Chicago-based United has the toughest vaccination policy among the major US airlines. Delta Air Lines requires vaccinations or weekly testing, but starting in November will begin charging non-vaccinated workers on a company health plan a $200 monthly surcharge.
American and Southwest have offered incentives to vaccinate employees, but have not indicated how they will comply with President Joe Biden’s order requiring employers with more than 100 workers to be vaccinated or tested weekly. Both airlines are based in Texas, where state officials are trying to limit vaccinations and mandates for wearing masks, and resistance to vaccination is stronger than in many other parts of the country.
Pilot unions in the US and in the Southwest are opposing mandatory vaccinations and instead pushing for options such as COVID-19 testing.
According to their union, 4,200 of American’s 14,000 pilots have not been vaccinated.
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United’s experience underscores that very few workers – typically less than 1% – are prepared to quit or be fired because of the vaccination mandate.
Novant Health, a North Carolina hospital system, said this week that about 175 of its 35,000 employees were fired for not getting vaccinated. In the Houston Methodist hospital system, approximately 150 of the 26,000 employees were fired in june.
Like the wearing of masks, Biden’s order to routinely vaccinate or test workers at large companies has become a political issue. A poll released Thursday by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found that Biden’s order supports Three-quarters Democrats but only one-quarter Republicans.
The six United employees who have been exempted are suing the airline In federal district court in Texas, claimed that he was being discriminated against because of medical conditions or religious beliefs. United has said the lawsuit has no merit.