October 25, 2021

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Workers want Covid vaccinations beneath federal guidelines

A Boeing 737-990 (ER) operated by Alaska Airways takes off from JFK Airport on August 24, 2019 in Queens, New York.

Bruce Bennett | Getty Photographs

American Airways, Alaska Airways and JetBlue Airways advised their workers that their work as authorities contractors means they have to be vaccinated towards Covid-19 as early as December 8 beneath new federal guidelines.

President Joe Biden final month introduced sweeping vaccine or common testing necessities for workers of personal firms with greater than 100 staff to assist curb the unfold of Covid.

Along with necessities for personal firms, his administration issued stricter vaccination necessities for federal contractors. These embrace lodging just for workers granted exemptions for medical or spiritual causes. Main airways say they fall into the federal contractor class as a result of they transport authorities workers and supply different providers just like the emergency flights that helped convey Afghanistan evacuees to the U.S. this summer time.

Final week, the Biden administration mentioned federal contractors would must be vaccinated no later than Dec. 8. All three airways mentioned there will probably be an approval course of for medical and non secular exemptions.

“Because of this, the federal vaccine mandate requires that every one of American’s U.S.-based workforce members and sure worldwide crew members be vaccinated, with out the supply of a daily testing various,” American Airways CEO Doug Parker and its president, Robert Isom, wrote in a notice to workers late Friday.
“Whereas we’re nonetheless working by way of the small print of the federal necessities, it’s clear that workforce members who select to stay unvaccinated will be unable to work at American Airways.”

Vacation journey

JetBlue advised workers that “no matter working within the operation, a help heart, or at dwelling – will probably be required by the federal government to be totally vaccinated for COVID-19 to proceed performing their position,” JetBlue’s CEO Robin Hayes and COO Joanna Geraghty mentioned in an worker e-mail, which was seen by CNBC, on Friday.

Geraghty advised CNBC this week that the “overwhelming majority” of its workers are vaccinated however mentioned the precise proportion wasn’t instantly clear.

The JetBlue executives urged workers to get vaccinated earlier than the busy end-of-year vacation season.

“Our clients rely on us to get them the place they are going through the holidays, and we must be prepared to totally adjust to the mandate earlier than the vacation peak begins and to assist convey this pandemic to a detailed,” they mentioned.

Seattle-based Alaska, New York-based JetBlue and Fort Price, Texas-based American have not mandated that workers be vaccinated however they’ve repeatedly inspired workers to get inoculated. Alaska has provided further pay to those that share proof of vaccination with the corporate. American provided further day off and $50 to a lot of its workers who get vaccinated.

“Since our firm does important work for the federal authorities, we have decided that Alaska Airways, Horizon Air and McGee workers – all a part of Alaska Air Group – do fall beneath this federal vaccine mandate, together with different main U.S. airways,” Alaska mentioned Thursday in a workers notice. “This implies all of our workers, together with sure contractors and distributors, will probably be required to be totally vaccinated, or be authorised for an affordable lodging corresponding to medical situations or spiritual beliefs that stop them from being vaccinated.”

CNBC noticed a replica of the notice. A spokeswoman for Alaska Airways advised CNBC a “important majority” of the airline’s roughly 22,000 workers are vaccinated, however she declined to present a proportion, noting that workers continues to be importing proof of vaccination.

Alaska prolonged its $200 incentive for employees to add proof of full vaccination from October 15 to December 1.

Airways’ approaches to vaccines have differed, but most haven’t issued mandates and instead used incentives like extra pay or time off for employees to get shots.

Some labor unions have also opposed making vaccines mandatory such as those representing pilots at American and Southwest Airlines. Both of those carriers previously said they expected that the new federal vaccine mandates would apply to them. Southwest didn’t comment for this article.

The Allied Pilots Association, which represents American’s roughly 14,000 pilots, last week wrote to the Biden administration and key lawmakers asking for alternatives to the mandate, such as regular Covid or antibody testing. The union said some of American’s pilots were “reluctant to get vaccinated based upon concerns about the potential for career-ending side effects” and warned the mandate could create labor shortages and disrupt holiday travel.

After American’s note to staff on Friday, APA told its members that the airline must negotiate with the union for the “implementation and effects of a mandatory vaccination requirement on our pilots.”

United’s mandate

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