United Airlines have reportedly mandated its employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19. This makes United the first major airline in the United States to execute such a mandate.
An executive from United Airlines apparently stated that it was not implementing a similar mandate for passengers and if required, this decision will be made by the government.
The airline has announced a deadline of late October for all U.S.-based employees to show their vaccination status. It also stated that the deadline could be moved up if a vaccine receives early federal approval. Any employee who declines to prove their vaccination status will be asked to leave unless they can present some proof of medical or religious reasons for not getting vaccinated.
A spokesperson from United Airlines supposedly said that the airline will consider the case of every employee who seeks those religious and health exemptions, and employees granted exceptions will have to wear masks at all times. The airlines stated that while it had discussed these rules with its unions, it is yet to reach an agreement with them.
The Air Line Pilots Association, Teamsters, and the Association of Flight Attendants - three of the biggest unions at United, which represent close to 6,600 airline mechanics - have apparently suggested that the unions will welcome the mandate. The pilot’s union said that over 90% of its members are vaccinated, while the union of flight attendants said that around 80% of its members have completed the vaccination.
A notice from the union of flight attendants issued to its members supposedly mentioned that vaccination is the best way to tackle the problem of COVID-19. There has been a remarkable rise in the number of cases over the past two weeks, the majority of which were unvaccinated flight attendants, although there have been some breakthrough infections as well.
According to United, the October deadline has been set with the aim of safeguarding its workforce, family members and customers at the earliest, given the alarming surge in COVID-19 cases in recent months.