According to United Airlines, the company spends an extra $1.4 million every two weeks for the carrier’s unvaccinated pilots. That’s the amount United told a federal judge as they put their unvaccinated pilots on paid leave. The airline explained that they had to put unvaccinated pilots on leave since their colleagues “refuse to risk their safety”.
Last Friday, United asked a federal judge in Texas to remove the temporary restraining order that stops the airline from putting unvaccinated pilots with religious and medical exemptions on unpaid leave. The Fort Worth judge declined the request and the temporary ban stood. On Monday, the judge extended the temporary restraining order until November 8.
According to US District Judge Mark Pittman, workers will have “to take a vaccination in violation of their religious belief or medical restrictions” or deal with “indefinite unpaid leave” without the temporary restraining order.
In late September, the carrier announced that 99% of its workers already completed their COVID19 vaccine doses. United announced it is going to fire almost 600 unvaccinated workers. However, United confirmed that hundreds more changed their mind and complied with the vaccine mandate.
Unvaccinated Pilots and Workers Push Back on the Vaccine Mandate
The Biden administration announced that large businesses and federal contractors need to require vaccination among their employees. Businesses have the option to offer regular testing as an alternative to vaccination for their unvaccinated employees. However, that’s not the case with federal contractors.
Major airlines fall under the federal contractor category. This makes it possible for airlines to lose their government contracts if they fail to require vaccination among their workers.
Most major US airlines now require employees to get the COVID19 vaccine. However, some airlines are also dealing with workers pushing back against the vaccine mandate. American and Southwest pilots are also fighting the mandate citing possible career-ending side effects.