Amtrak announced it will require nearly all of its 18,000 employees to be fully Vaccinated by Nov. 22. Multiple sources are reporting that train crews have now joined the protest started by Air Traffic Controllers and Southwest pilots and employees.
Southwest Airlines canceled more than 1,000 flights on Sunday as employees continue to react to the company’s decision to impose vaccine mandates. Earlier this week, employees learned they would be required to be vaccinated by December 8 or face termination. Reports circulating on social media suggest disgruntled employees responded to the mandate with a #sickout. Speaking on condition of anonymity, an employee for Southwest said, “The pilots are very upset. There is no organized sick out, but many employees are very disgruntled.”
The pushback began Friday when a reported 3 out of 35 employees showed up for work at the Jacksonville center. According to the source, “almost every flight out of Orlando was cancelled,” as employees protested the new mandate. The source went on to suggest that the Biden administration was in touch with several airlines over the past week and “threatened all CEO’s” to enforce vaccine mandates.
Southwest is not the only airline encountering significant pushback from its employees. United Airlines has reportedly imposed mandates and is placing pilots on “unpaid administrative leave” while the airline reviews applications for religious exemptions, which raises questions of legality. To further muddy the waters, Southwest’s pilot union has reportedly offered “significant” support to United pilots trying to fight company mandates.
The source estimates that nearly 50% of Southwest pilots remain unvaccinated. If airlines continue down this path, the growing fear is the response will “break the system.” “Things are going to get a lot worse,” he said. As many pilots consider their options leading up to the December 8 deadline, it is becoming increasingly clear that the new mandates are slowly chipping away at the foundation of America’s economy.
In the meantime Southwest Pilots Union Sues To Block Airline’s Vaccination Mandate
In what appears to be one of the first cases of a union pushing back against the new COVID vaccination requirements handed down by the Biden Administration, a union representing pilots at Southwest Airlines is suing to stop the vaccine requirement from being forced until a lawsuit is resolved.
Bloomberg reports that the union representing Southwest’s pilots has asked a court to grant a temporary stay against the federal vaccination rules until an ongoing lawsuit over what they allege are violations of US labor laws is resolved.
In a court filing on Friday, the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association also asked for an immediate hearing on the request before a federal court in Dallas, claiming the carrier has continued to take unilateral actions that violate terms of the Railway Labor Act, which governs relations between airlines and employee unions. The “unilateral action” in question is the company’s attempt (at the Biden Administration’s direction) to force workers to either get the jab, or be fired or sent on unpaid leave, Bloomberg reports.
“The new vaccine mandate unlawfully imposes new conditions of employment and the new policy threatens termination of any pilot not fully vaccinated by December 8, 2021,” the legal filing said. “Southwest Airlines’ additional new and unilateral modification of the parties’ collective bargaining agreement is in clear violation of the RLA.”
According to the guidelines set out by President Biden (and “voluntarily” embraced by most of the major airlines), Southwest has a deadline of Oct. 4 under the federal mandate for employees to get jabbed or have an approved medical or religious exemption. SW is affected by the mandate because it has contracts with the federal government (like many large businesses).