March 29, 2023

Southwest Pilots Union Sues In order to Block Airline’s Vaccination Mandate

In what seems to be one of the first cases of a union pushing back against the new COVID vaccination requirements  handed down by the Biden Administration, the union representing pilots in Southwest Airlines is suing to  stop the vaccine requirement from being forced until a lawsuit is resolved.   Bloomberg reports  that the marriage representing Southwest’ s fliers has asked […]#@@#@!!

In what appears to be major cases of a union pushing back against the new COVID vaccination requirements  handed down by the Biden Administration , a union representing fliers at Southwest Airlines is suing to  stop the particular vaccine requirement from having until a lawsuit is resolved.  

Bloomberg reports   the fact that union representing Southwest’s pilots has asked a court to grant a temporary  stay against the federal government vaccination rules until an ongoing lawsuit over what they state are violations of US labor laws is resolved.  

Within a court filing on Fri, the Southwest Airlines Fliers Association also asked for an immediate hearing on the request before a federal court in Dallas, claiming the carrier provides continued to take unilateral actions that violate terms of the Railway Labor Act, which governs relations between airlines plus employee unions. The “ unilateral action” in question could be the company’s attempt (at the Biden Administration’s direction) to force workers to possibly get the jab, or become fired or sent on unpaid leave,   Bloomberg   reports.

“ The new vaccine mandate   unlawfully imposes new conditions of employment as well as the new policy threatens end of contract of any pilot not really fully vaccinated  by December 8, 2021, ” the legal filing said.   “ Southwest Airlines’ additional new and unilateral modification of the parties’ collective bargaining agreement is within clear violation of the RLA. ”

A savvy UK quantitative data analyst named Joel Smalley recently uploaded a video featuring data from John Hopkins University showing insane spikes in Covid-19 deaths after countries introduced Covid vaccines. Read more here:

According to the suggestions set out by President Biden (and “ voluntarily” embraced by most of the major airlines),   Southwest has a deadline of Oct. four under the federal mandate regarding employees to get jabbed and have an approved medical or even religious exemption.   SW is affected by the particular mandate because it has agreements with the federal government (like a lot of large businesses).

The union represents 9, 000 pilots at the flight, 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 straight down,   insisting how the vaccination mandate (which air travel CEOs have gone on TV to defend) isn’t an issue subject to labor-management negotiation, which 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 a few months require negotiation, ” Southwest said in an emailed declaration. The carrier is committed to working with its unions “ as we continue navigating the challenges presented by the on-going pandemic. ”

Unfortunately for the Southwest,   the vaccine mandate isn’t the only COVID-related plan that the pilots have taken issue with.

Other policies the marriage seeks to block consist of Southwest’s Covid  quarantine rules for pilots plus an infectious disease control policy that it says considerably altered work conditions, rules and rates of pay out,   until the 2 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 discussions, the lawsuit claimed.

Pilots may also be uniquely at risk because (as a growing number of  Nordic countries  impose new restrictions on mRNA vaccines, and amid skepticism about whether vaccines are really worth it for the young and healthy) an adverse reaction to the vaccine could cost them their particular pilots’ license.

Pilots are at a distinctive risk  because side effects to a vaccine could impact their ability to pass regular medical examinations required to sustain their license.   The union wants to work out, among other things, how such instances would be covered by long-term disability policies.

Understandably, before agreeing to all these restrictions, the union wants to make sure any initial affected in this manner receive disability.

Once we wait to see whether pilots at other unions push back in a similar way,   more than in the UK , restrictions on travelers and pilots are actually being relaxed.

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