What a marked contrast. United Airlines required employee vaccination before the federal government tried to impose this requirement. They’ve been to court over putting employees with vaccine exemptions on unpaid leave. And they say this policy has kept every one of their Covid-positive employees out of the hospital and saved numerous employee lives.
American Airlines, by contrast, offered big incentive pay that encouraged crew to work even when they’d otherwise call in sick. Fearing not having enough employees to staff their schedule they encouraged employees to seek exemption from vaccination and have now said that unvaccinated employees won’t be asked to test for Covid-1 in order to work.
It turns out the effort to keep employees in the face of a vaccine mandate has gone even farther, paying out incentives for employees to get exempted from the requirement. As a note confirming exemption explains, such employees get an extra day of vacation as well as $50 in company scrip for their successful exemption.
United Airlines is litigating in the courts to keep unvaccinated employees out of the workplace. American Airlines is paying unvaccinated employees extra to remain it it.
While it’s expected that as many as 40% of Americans will get Covid-19 in the Omicron wave, vaccinated and boosted individuals are less likely to get it, clear the virus more quickly, and are less likely to spread it. So vaccination is still better not just for employee health but for reducing spread among employees and keeping the operation running. But vaccine resistance has been high in the airline’s workforce and they’ve made the decision to push people to get exemptions if they don’t want vaccination, in order to keep them working.