The Allied Pilots Association requested that American Airlines find “alternate means of compliance with the Executive Order be made available for professional pilots” so as not to prompt mass firings and unpaid leave following President Joe Biden's September announcement mandating large employers to require vaccinations or an alternative weekly testing.
“As labor in the airline industry, we now find ourselves at another critical juncture with President Biden’s Executive Orders mandating COVID-19 vaccination for employees of federal contractors and companies with more than 100 workers. While it is not yet certain which Executive Order will apply to America's airlines, it is apparent that we will be subject to a vaccine mandate in either instance,” read the Sept. 24 letter.
“Some of APA’s members are unable to undergo vaccination for documented medical reasons, while others are reluctant to get vaccinated based upon concerns about the potential for career-ending side effects,” the letter then continued.
“All of those members are still able to perform their duties as professional pilots,” the letter went on. “To force those pilots out of their positions, rather than offering viable alternatives will have adverse consequences upon their families and the airline industry as a whole.”
As of Wednesday, the APA was hopeful that it could negotiate exemptions despite the company’s looming deadline, noting it “fully expects American Airlines management to continue its historical practice of bargaining with APA over issues related to the implementation and impact of the announced COVID-19 vaccine mandate.”
American Airlines, along with several other major airlines, pledged to fully comply with the mandate’s goal of having all employees vaccinated. The deadline for staff to submit proof of vaccination is Nov. 24, one day before Thanksgiving.
“As essential workers, professional pilots have shouldered an elevated risk of illness from the start of the pandemic, including well before the vaccines became available. We are hopeful that our contributions are recognized and accounted for as you consider our request for approval of a permanent alternate means of compliance and an operationally feasible implementation period,” the letter concluded.
While President Biden's vaccine mandate has been widely adopted by many major companies, some on the Right have pushed back on the concept, with a handful of GOP-led states, such as Florida and Texas, banning the use of vaccine passports.
There have been more than 44 million cases of COVID-19 in the United States, and 187.2 million people are fully vaccinated against the disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.