Amtrak Suspends Vaccine Mandate, Allows Regular Testing for Unvaccinated Employees

Amtrak announced on Tuesday that it is suspending its vaccine mandate. It also means that it will no longer terminate unvaccinated employees.

In a memo, Chief Executive Bill Flynn said that unvaccinated employees will now have the option to opt for regular testing. Currently, there are less than 500 unvaccinated Amtrak employees.

Flynn said that 95.7% of the 17,000 Amtrak employees either completed their COVID vaccine doses or received a medical or religious exemption. If they’ll include employees who received one dose, that number is at 97.3%.

Amtrak decided to follow the US district court decision that halted Biden’s executive order. However, it is still up to the employers whether or not to require COVID19 vaccination to their employees. According to the memo, “This caused the company to reevaluate our policy and to address the uncertainty about the federal requirements that apply to Amtrak”.

According to White House spokesperson Jen Psaki, Amtrak is only looking to “ensure that there are adequate employees on the job”. She also added that the administration isn’t bothered by the recent development. She said that “vaccination or testing is something we have been recommending”.

Unvaccinated Amtrak employees need to submit a negative COVID19 test. Those who can’t comply with the testing protocol will be placed on unpaid leave of absence.

Amtrak Announced Service Cuts

Last week, during a House committee hearing, an Amtrak official announced their plan of having service cuts. Republican lawmaker Sam Graves criticized the cuts and blamed the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate. Graves said that the vaccine mandate “would have delivered less service for the taxpayers footing the bill”.

Amtrak is currently looking to expand its workforce. The  US passenger railroad plans to add 3,500 new employees by 2022.

Other Companies Suspended their Vaccine Mandate

Amtrak isn’t the only company that suspended its vaccine mandate. Health care systems and other companies are also doing the same.

David Barron, a Houston-based employment attorney said that “Most employers do not have the luxury of losing 5 percent, or 10 percent” of their workforce. He added that “In this environment, it’s very tough, especially in jobs like health care or other industries where it’s a very tight labor market”.

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John Michael Jayme
John Michael Jayme is a Travel Analyst for The Jet Set. He writes about news and events affecting the travel industry.


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