The Air Line Pilots Association, which represents about 12,000 aviators at the Chicago-based airline, said pilots who did not get vaccinated shouldn’t be subject to termination under terms of its contract. “Normally, pilots who are nonqualified are not disciplined or terminated, they are simply removed from their schedules in accordance with the United Pilot Agreement.”
United said all U.S. employees must show proof of vaccination by Sept. 27 unless they received medical or religious exemptions.
“While the company has the right to impose a mandate, our contract protects how that mandate is implemented and it must be followed,” the union said. “(We) will vigorously defend our pilots and uphold those contractual rights.”
United also was sued in Texas by six employees over its mandatory vaccination policy.
However, the airline has been unapologetic about its stance. “The pandemic is now killing more than 2,000 people per day—a 65% increase in just the past 30 days—and the most effective way to keep our people safe, is to make sure they’re vaccinated,” CEO Scott Kirby and President Brett Hart said in a memo to employees yesterday.
The pilots’ union also said it “supports the vaccines and believes they have been proven to be the best way to protect each other and our families from hospitalization and death due to COVID. We have been preparing for this decision by the company. The United pilots facing discipline from the company have the full backing of all ALPA resources.”