Are Southwest Employees Being Told To Lie In Response To Vaccine Mandates?

Airline employees who may be engaged in sick outs over vaccine mandates are told to lie. They can’t speak publicly about what they are doing, because it would be an illegal job action under the Railway Labor Act. So while the Southwest Airlines pilots union says of course none of their members would call out sick to hurt the carrier’s operation in protest, we even see fairly public implied statements like this one. (HT: Live and Let’s Fly)

Airlines don’t want to lose employees, especially pilots, and especially right before the busy holiday travel season. So they want employees to get vaccinated, in order not to run afoul of federal mandates (and not to lose their government contracts). What they really want though is not to be forced to fire employees, especially pilots who are costly and time-consuming to train, right as air travel is getting back on track.

So Southwest’s CEO Gary Kelly says he believes companies shouldn’t mandate vaccines, and but has no choice .. so what he wants is employees who don’t want to get vaccinated to take a medical or religious exemption. (Hint, hint, Southwest will approve these.)

I’ve never been in favor of corporations imposing that kind of a mandate. I’m not in favor of that never have been. But the executive order from president Biden mandates that all federal employees and then all federal contractors which covers all the major airlines have to have a mandate — a vaccine in place by December the 8th.

We’re working through that we’re urging all of our employees to get vaccinated. If they can’t, we’re urging them to seek an accommodation, either for medical or religious reasons. And my goal, obviously, is that no one loses their job.

United Airlines is being sued over its process for exemptions, delving deeply into employee beliefs and requiring letters from pastors about these beliefs (and telling those who do get an exemption they will go onto unpaid leave). That’s not what we can expect from Southwest, it seems. And don’t forget there’s a pastor who even sells exemption letters.

Fortunately no one is telling employees to print a CDC vaccine card off the internet and handwrite on it, the only challenge the process being finding card stock for it – which may not be important anyway since they’ll just take a scan of it anyway to upload.

I expect conversations like these – ‘speak no evil, hear no evil’ – will be going on across the country as mandates come about, though some employees will feel the need to have their voice heard still and won’t go along.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. I mean just give up the federal government contracts then. Having dealt with government contracts for decades there is a ton of regulations that basically disqualify a huge % of companies but no company is forced to work with the government. That’s free markets at work. Don’t like the regulations? Don’t take the money. It’s sad how much of the US has turned into the land of the crybaby suckling off the tet of taxpayer money.

  2. It saddens me that people view selfishness more importantly than collective good. This country was founded on empowering the disenfranchised yet here we are splintered into arguing factions. Just when I think we can’t decline any more we sunk further into the mire. How sad for us.

  3. Just let airlines do what they want – mask and vaccines should be optional. But also allow employees and passengers hold them liable if someone gets covid while flying them. It’s hard to prove but if you can prove it then the airline who decided not to follow stricter guidelines can just pony up. Simple as that.

  4. Robert, this a country was founded on the concept of FREEDOM, God given rights and individual liberty NOT collectivism like you suggest.
    I don’t know where in our history you surmised this but what is happening now is a natural response to tyranny. This administration can’t legislate vaccine mandates and wants to get to 97%, we aren’t even past 85-90% liability insurance compliance for cars….and the administration believes they can FORCE their method of healthcare on everyone and leverage their jobs and livelihoods in the process. Well, this kind of tyranny will be met by the collective resistance of all freedom loving Americans. This is the one area we do agree with collectivism…simply put, if government abuses its power and it affects a portion of us this way….it will later affect others through future mandates for something else that will come to pass because the government will gain power over the people. The founders realized this and everyone decided to join together and fight Britain because they knew it would only get worse. What we are beginning to see are vaccinated individuals realizing they need to join this fight because it’s liberty at stake not just this one issue.

  5. This is why we can’t have nice things…

    @Mark Rascio, you’d have a point if you added the slavery and genocide part. As far as vaccinations go, how’d you like that whole not getting polio thing?

  6. @Mark Rascio

    This country exists in part because George Washington mandated innoculation against smallpox in the Continental Army, overruling the then-anti-vaxxers in the Continental Congress. No (vaccine-like) mandate, no USA.

  7. “The Hero Pilots at Southwest and other Airlines deserve our support. True patriots worthy of the American Freedom Fighter tradition….”
    I have no dog in this fight but “Hero Pilots” and “True patriots”? WTF?
    Geez… the 2 most overused words in the last 5 years. Hero and Patriot. Give it a rest.

  8. Hero pilots, because they refuse to protect others? Really “tyranny”, really? It’s a freaking shot, come on.

  9. It’s worth noting that Delta, the only major airline without a vaccination mandate, said today it has achieved a 90% vaccination rate and says 5-10% of its employees have legitimate medical or religious exemptions.

    The real question is why there is an endless need to mandate something that Delta achieved through financial incentives and respect for its employees, a path no other large US airline has been willing to take.

  10. @Matthew – How are they protecting others? Vaccinated people get infected and spread Covid, this is a fact. So again, if vaccinated can get infected with Covid and spread it, how is it protecting anyone else? The vaccine isn’t for the collective good, it’s for our individual good. It must also be our individual choice.

  11. Gary, your need to amplify the stupidity that is seen in that tweet, amongst other details of misinformation, in this post and previous ones, is really a frightening use of your blog. My hope is that your posts will be less political and more informational. And I say that as you amplify a known right wing opinion account (ie not at all factual). Very disappointing.

  12. @Mark Rascio —> YES! People *do* have individual rights…but what you and others of your ilk conveniently forget is that with those rights come RESPONSIBILITIES, You cannot have one without the other. You are totally and completely selfish, and that is NOT the America I know and live in.

    “Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.” Get the ******* vaccine!

  13. Personally, I have NO DOUBT that it’s a “sick out,” albeit an undeclared one, I know one Southwest FA that is refusing to be vaccinated, and while she’s a friend, she’s also a friend that I wouldn’t want on my flight…

  14. @Nathaniel T Russell

    Re “that whole polio thing” …

    Once you were vaccinated for polio the you were immune to it. It was fine to be around unvaccinated people b/c you had been vaccinated with a sterilizing vaccine. The “vaccine” being given for Covid 19 is not a sterilizing vaccine, which means that even though you’ve gotten the jab, not only are you able to catch the disease again but you are also able to transmit the disease.

    The polio argument is ridiculous when used as a comparison. There are no similarities.


  15. @Rust

    Polio vaccine does not provide sterilizing immunity. You can still be infected with polio virus, it just won’t spread widely or cause symptoms.

  16. @Rust

    Ok, change “that whole polio thing” to “those measles and smallpox things”. Neither of these vaccines are sterilizing, and those diseases are practically nonexistent now.

    Science! But I don’t expect this science to change anyone’s mind who has already decided that the COVID vaccine tramples on their freedom. They accept pseudo-science when it “proves” their point, and reject real science when it disproves it.

    One source:

  17. I say, if you took money from the government(Stimulus, PPP, etc), comply with the rules/mandates or pay it back. If you want to be a business/person who doesn’t want to do good for the collective, collective shouldn’t be bailing you out!!

  18. Mandated medical procedures include seven or 8 vaccines mandated for every child to attend school no mater where you are in the USA. See much polio these days? How about smallpox? The stupidity of people who think people exist without the support of other humans ranks right up there with flat-earth theorists and people who think the Former Guy should have won California but for something something conspiracy fraud theory. Uff. Y’all freedom patriots can build your own damn planes. By your individuals freedumb selves.

  19. And they can kill my child by breathing on them with their diseased unvaccinated breath.
    I draw the line right there.
    These people belong in jail!

  20. “ And they can kill my child by breathing on them with their diseased unvaccinated breath!”

    Jorge you are unhinged! I hope you are joking, if not you need to get a grip.

  21. A person should never have to lie to keep their job. The moment an employer allegedly tells employees to lie to keep their jobs, that should be the defining moment to start a side hustle and position yourself to earn passive income in the future from affiliate marketing, blogging, and YouTube.

    Your thoughts on this?

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