Over the weekend there was news that Southwest Airlines was experiencing a myriad of cancellations. Of course, the official mainstream news media report was that this was due to employee shortages and severe weather in areas. However, all those excuses were quickly debunked and the truth emerged that the cancellations were based on Southwest Airline pilots and employees walking off the job.
Well, they were being forced to receive the COVID jab or be fired.
Thankfully, these pilots have a spine and were not going to be manipulated into taking something that clearly was against their rights. Now a case that is a first of its kind has started where the union is pushing back against the new COVID vaccination requirements handed down by the Biden Administration, a union representing pilots at Southwest Airlines is suing to stop the vaccine requirement from being forced until a lawsuit is resolved.
Bloomberg reports that the union representing Southwest’s pilots has asked a court to grant a temporary stay against the federal vaccination rules until an ongoing lawsuit over what they allege are violations of US labor laws is resolved.
In a court filing on Friday, the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association also asked for an immediate hearing on the request before a federal court in Dallas, claiming the carrier has continued to take unilateral actions that violate terms of the Railway Labor Act, which governs relations between airlines and employee unions. The “unilateral action” in question is the company’s attempt (at the Biden Administration’s direction) to force workers to either get the jab, or be fired or sent on unpaid leave, Bloomberg reports.
“The new vaccine mandate unlawfully imposes new conditions of employment and the new policy threatens termination of any pilot not fully vaccinated by December 8, 2021,” the legal filing said. “Southwest Airlines’ additional new and unilateral modification of the parties’ collective bargaining agreement is in clear violation of the RLA.”
According to the guidelines set out by President Biden (and “voluntarily” embraced by most of the major airlines), Southwest has a deadline of Oct. 4 under the federal mandate for employees to get jabbed or have an approved medical or religious exemption. SW is affected by the mandate because it has contracts with the federal government (like many large businesses).
The union represents 9,000 pilots at the airline, and a strike could easily disrupt American air travel (remember the air traffic controllers strike in the 1980s?)
For whatever reason, the airline isn’t backing down, insisting that the vaccination mandate (which airline CEOs have gone on TV to defend) isn’t an issue subject to labor-management negotiation, and that anybody who refuses the jab without an exemption will be fired.
“The airline disagrees with SWAPA’s claims that any Covid-related changes over the past several months require negotiation,” Southwest said in an emailed statement. The carrier is committed to working with its unions “as we continue navigating the challenges presented by the ongoing pandemic.”
Unfortunately for the Southwest, the vaccine mandate isn’t the only COVID-related policy that the pilots have taken issue with.
Other policies the union seeks to block include Southwest’s Covid quarantine rules for pilots and an infectious disease control policy that it says significantly altered work conditions, rules and rates of pay, until the two sides negotiate a resolution to alleged contract violations outlined in its original Aug. 30 lawsuit. The changes violate a “status quo” provision of the RLA by not maintaining terms of an existing contract during negotiations, the lawsuit claimed.
Pilots are affected by this mandate and the vaccine and they should have been negotiated with before any blanket mandate. That is what we all should have to be completely honest and that is what people are fighting against.
Not one size fits all and people should have the right to refuse a vaccine that there are no long-term studies to show the effectiveness of it.
Let us not fault to mention that many pilots who have received this particular vaccine have been injured or died due to clotting issues in the air.
When there is a risk there should always be a choice and that is for the individual to choose and not an employer or the government.