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US Southwest Airlines Changes Stance, Will Not Fire Unvaccinated Employees

18:40  22 october  2021
18:40  22 october  2021 Source:   newsweek.com

Unsupported ‘sickout’ claims take flight amid Southwest woes

  Unsupported ‘sickout’ claims take flight amid Southwest woes DALLAS (AP) — When Southwest Airlines canceled more than 2,000 flights over the weekend, citing bad weather and air traffic control issues, unsupported claims blaming vaccine mandates began taking off. Conservative politicians and pundits, including Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, alleged the flight disruptions resulted from pilots and air traffic controllers walking off their jobs or calling in sick to protest federal vaccination requirements. The airline, its pilots’ union and the Federal Aviation Administration denied that. “The weekend challenges were not a result of Southwest employee demonstrations,” Southwest spokesman Chris Mainz said Monday.

The CEO of Southwest Airlines said Thursday that employees who don't comply with a federal vaccine mandate will not be fired.

The CEO of Southwest Airlines said Thursday that employees who don't comply with a federal vaccine mandate will not be fired. Above, travelers check in at the Southwest Airlines ticketing counter at Baltimore Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport on October 11, in Baltimore, Maryland. © Kevin Dietsch The CEO of Southwest Airlines said Thursday that employees who don't comply with a federal vaccine mandate will not be fired. Above, travelers check in at the Southwest Airlines ticketing counter at Baltimore Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport on October 11, in Baltimore, Maryland.

"This is an evolving process working with the government in terms of what they expect, and very clearly, we wanted our employees to know that nobody is going to lose their job on December the 9th if we're not perfectly in compliance," Gary Kelly said during a call about company's third quarter earnings on Thursday.

GOP lawmakers and Trump praised a Southwest Airlines anti-vaccine mandate walkout which authorities say never happened

  GOP lawmakers and Trump praised a Southwest Airlines anti-vaccine mandate walkout which authorities say never happened Conservatives praised Southwest pilots for what they claimed was a vax mandate protest. The airline says the cancellations were caused by the weather.Southwest canceled thousands of flights last weekend, citing bad weather in Florida and air traffic control issues.

"It is a work in progress, and we're going to continue working in good faith to meet the requirements of the executive order. But I've already said, and I'm sure you've heard, we're not going to fire anybody who doesn't get vaccinated," he continued.

In his comments on Thursday, Kelly added that "how we work through the people that don't get vaccinated, or don't seek an accommodation, we're going to have to figure out, and we are working with the government on that."

Insider first reported on Kelly's remarks on Thursday.

The comments mark a change in the company's stance on the vaccine mandate.

Earlier this month, Southwest Airlines said that employees would have to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 "or be approved for a religious, medical or disability accommodation" by December 8 "to continue employment with the airline."

Southwest drops plan to put unvaccinated workers on unpaid leave

  Southwest drops plan to put unvaccinated workers on unpaid leave Southwest will no longer put workers awaiting a decision on exemptions from the company's vaccine mandate on unpaid leave.Instead, such employees will be able to work as their applications for religious or medical exemptions are considered, provided they observe company rules on masks and social distancing, officials from the company said. "This is a change from what was previously communicated. Initially, we communicated that these Employees would be put on unpaid leave and that is no longer the case," an announcement Friday by Southwest's Senior Vice President of Operations and Hospitality Steve Goldberg and Vice President and Chief People Officer Julie W

In a statement on October 4, the Southwest said that it had completed a "thorough review of review of President Biden's COVID Action Plan and determined that the carrier's contracts with the U.S. government require full compliance with the federal vaccination directive."

On September 24, the White House announced that government contractors must ensure their employees are vaccinated against COVID-19 "unless the employee is legally entitled to an accommodation."

Following the announcement, federal contractors, including Amtrak, Union Pacific Corp., Boeing, Verizon and several U.S. airlines, said they would comply.

CNBC reported Tuesday that Southwest had nixed a plan to put employees who had applied for a vaccine exemption, but hadn't yet received one, on leave after December 8. Company officials told employees that those whose exemption requests were still pending could still work while following masking and social distancing protocols.

Southwest: We won't put unvaccinated workers on unpaid leave

  Southwest: We won't put unvaccinated workers on unpaid leave DALLAS (AP) — Southwest Airlines will let unvaccinated employees keep working past early December instead of putting them on unpaid leave if they apply for an exemption on medical or religious grounds. Federal contractors — including major U.S. airlines – face a Dec. 8 deadline to require employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Southwest spokeswoman Brandy King said Tuesday that employees must submit proof that they got the shots, or file a request for an exemption from vaccination, by Nov. 24. Employees whose requests have not been processed or approved by Dec. 8 will be allowed to keep working, she said.

American Airlines also says that it won't terminated or suspend employees who file for vaccine exemptions, theDallas Morning News reported on Tuesday.

But the newspaper noted that American Airlines employees who decline to submit proof of vaccination, or apply for a vaccine exemption could still be fired.

Newsweek has reached out to Southwest Airlines for comment.

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  • Joe Biden Says U.S. Is 'Ready' to Vaccinate Children, But Parents Remain Divided
  • Fauci Warns Vaccine-Hesitant Pilots: Getting COVID Should Be Greater Concern

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