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Southwest and Americans warn vacation travel could be disrupted by vaccine mandate

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Southwest and American Airlines unions warn vacation travel could be disrupted if pilots must comply with President Joe Biden’s pending vaccine mandate.

On Friday, the Allied Pilots Association, which represents 14,000 pilots at American, sent a letter to the White House and Congressional leaders warning that airlines will be forced to “offer unpaid leave or, worse, mass termination of unvaccinated people.” pilots’ in response. to Biden’s new vaccine mandate.

“As a worker in the airline industry, we are now at another critical juncture with President Biden’s Executive Orders mandating COVID-19 vaccination for employees of federal contractors and companies with more than 100 employees.

“While it is not yet certain which Executive Order will apply to US airlines, it is clear that in both cases we will be subject to a vaccine mandate,” read the letter, prepared by APA President Eric Ferguson.

The Southwest Airlines Pilots Association said, “SWAPA’s position is that it is every pilot’s right to choose whether or not to get the vaccine.

“We are also concerned that the expected 60-day implementation period of the Executive Order for mandatory vaccinations could lead to labor shortages and cause serious operational difficulties for Southwest Airlines and its colleagues.”

Southwest and American Airlines unions warn vacation travel could be hampered if pilots must comply with President Joe Biden’s pending vaccine mandate

Both Southwest and American have provided incentives for pilots and other employees to get vaccinated, including free vacation days and bonus payments.  However, neither airline has mandatory vaccinations

Both Southwest and American have provided incentives for pilots and other employees to get vaccinated, including free vacation days and bonus payments. However, neither airline has mandatory vaccinations

To avoid mass termination of unvaccinated pilots, the APA asked that a “alternative means to comply with the Executive Order are made available to professional pilots.’

Both Southwest and American have provided incentives for pilots and other employees to get vaccinated, including free vacation days and bonus payments. However, neither airline has mandatory vaccinations.

Southwest currently has a workforce of 54,448 employees, with 8,500 active pilots as of December 31, 2020. American has a workforce of 133,700 employees, with 673 active pilots as of August.

Fort-Worth airline hopes to hire as many as 1,350 pilots by the end of 2022 to meet increasing demand.

Southwest currently has a workforce of 54,448 employees, with 8,500 active pilots as of December 31, 2020

Southwest currently has a workforce of 54,448 employees, with 8,500 active pilots as of December 31, 2020

On Friday, the Allied Pilots Association, which represents 14,000 pilots at American, sent a letter to the White House and Congressional leaders warning that airlines will be forced to

On Friday, the Allied Pilots Association, which represents 14,000 pilots at American, sent a letter to the White House and Congressional leaders warning that airlines will be forced to “offer unpaid leave or, worse, mass termination of unvaccinated people.” pilots’ in response. to Biden’s new vaccine mandate

To avoid mass termination of unvaccinated pilots, the APA asked for an 'alternative way to comply with the Executive Order for professional pilots'

To avoid mass termination of unvaccinated pilots, the APA asked for an ‘alternative way to comply with the Executive Order for professional pilots’

United, Frontier and Hawaiian Airlines all demanded workers be vaccinated, with United saying 97% of its 67,000 employees had been vaccinated even before the deadline went into effect.

Delta Air Lines stopped mandating vaccination, but said that starting November, unvaccinated employees on the company’s health plan will pay a $200 monthly supplement.

Delta’s Chief Health Officer, Dr. Henry Ting, said about 20,000 employees had not been vaccinated when the company announced plans for the allowance. In the past month, nearly 9,000 of them received at least one injection.

Approximately 82.5% of Delta’s 75,000 employees are fully vaccinated. Fewer than five workers have applied for a medical exemption, and no one has applied for a religious exemption, Ting said.

“The first 20,000 were very eager and we got to about 70% (vaccinated) pretty quickly,” Ting said, but the remaining unvaccinated workers “are a very different group.”

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Earlier this month, TThe Labor Department has issued a temporary emergency order requiring all companies with 100 or more employees to ensure that every employee is either fully vaccinated or tested at least once a week.

The order affects more than 80 million employees and employers with 100 or more employees will have to give employees paid leave to get vaccinated.

The Biden administration has said companies will be fined $13,600 per violation and that mandatory weekly tests will be the alternative to vaccination.

The question of whether employers or the government will pay for mandatory testing has yet to be answered. In the coming weeks, regulations will be drawn up for the Arbodienst, the office responsible for the execution of the mandate.

Meanwhile, US COVID-19 cases are on the rise

The seven-day average COVID-19 deaths rose above the 2,000 threshold for the first time since March last week. And this week comes a number of state deadlines for health workers to get vaccinated, raising fears that staff shortages in hospitals and nursing homes will worsen if some choose to quit, be fired or be suspended.

The APA adds that forcing pilots to get vaccinated poses a threat to an industry still reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ferguson said he is hopeful that pilots’ contributions will be recognized during the pandemic as the Biden administration considers “our request for approval of a permanent alternative means of compliance and an operationally viable implementation period.”

Biden directing OSHA to use its temporary emergency standard for its vaccine order will affect more than 80 million workers

What is OSHA?

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration was established by President Richard Nixon under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970.

OSHA has jurisdiction over most private and public workplaces across the country, but some states have their own OSHA-approved regulatory bodies.

The agency regulates health and safety standards in the workplace. To enforce its ability to conduct unannounced inspections to ensure these standards are met.

Since its inception, workplace deaths have fallen dramatically by nearly 63 percent, according to OSHA. In 1970, an estimated 14,000 workers – or 38 a day – were killed on the job. But in 2018, the number dropped to 5,250, despite a doubling of the total US workforce.

OSHA’s process for setting new workplace standards includes consulting a number of relevant advisory committees associated with the Labor and Health and Human Services departments, as well as consulting business owners and allowing public input, at least 30 days but “usually.” 60 days or more.”

Companies in states with their own OSHA-approved agencies can request a “waiver” in the rule if they can’t comply by the effective date.

If the state is under federal OSHA jurisdiction, the agency must work with the state to determine whether the exception can be granted

What is a temporary emergency standard (ETS)?

An ETS allows OSHA to bypass the consultation process and the public input window if it determines that “workers are at serious risk from exposure to toxic substances or agents that have been determined to be toxic or physically harmful, or to emerging hazards and that an emergency standard is needed to them.’

Emergency standards can take effect immediately, but will only remain in effect until replaced by a permanent standard.

That proposed permanent standard should go through the regular bureaucratic channels and be adopted within six months.

During that time, the temporary rule can be challenged in an appropriate federal court.

OSHA may issue “temporary variance” rules to employers that prove they cannot comply with a regulation on time, but they must demonstrate that they are taking all necessary and possible steps to protect employees and demonstrate a roadmap to compliance.

Source: OSHA

The Labor Department's regulatory body has the power to issue a 'temporary emergency standard' if it can demonstrate that workers are being exposed to a serious hazard and the rule is deemed necessary to address this

The Labor Department’s regulatory body has the power to issue a ‘temporary emergency standard’ if it can demonstrate that workers are being exposed to a serious hazard and the rule is deemed necessary to address this

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