Southwest Airlines is the latest major company to join on the list of companies that are requiring workers to get vaccinated against Covid-19, latest reports say.
The Dallas based company announced on Monday that they are requiring more than 54,000 Southwest employees to get the Covid-19 shot no later than December 8. There will be exemptions for a religious, medical, or disability accommodation, the company said.
“Southwest Airlines must join our industry peers in complying with the federal government’s COVID-19 vaccination directive,” said Gary Kelly, Southwest Airlines chairman and CEO. “I encourage all Southwest Employees to meet the federal directive, as quickly as possible, since we value every individual and want to ensure job security for all.”
The company has nearly 10,000 pilots and 16,000 flight attendants. The company didn’t say how many of them are vaccinated as of now.
“The pilot group might consider doing it, but even with that it’s going to be very difficult,” said aviation expert Denny Kelly.
Kelly is aware that this might not be an easy process and they might face difficulties in order to make all the workers to get the shot. He added that their latest decision has nothing to do with the government’s directive over the vaccine mandate and they expect negotiations with the airlines and their unions in the upcoming period.
“It’s kind of like herding cats. It’s almost impossible. And I think that American and Southwest are going to have a problem,” Kelly said.
Southwest’s announcement comes just days after another major company announced vaccine mandate for their workers. Last week, the Fort Worth base American Airlines also announced vaccine mandate for their workers.
The Allied Pilots Association – which represents 14,000 American pilots – says roughly 10,000 have gotten the vaccine.
Several other airline companies already announced vaccine mandate for their workers including JetBlue Airways, Alaska Airlines and United Airlines. United’s vaccine deadline was until last week and the company confirmed that nearly 99% of their workers were fully vaccinated as of last week.
Around 500 United workers who decided not to get the shot will probably get fired.
The last major airline that has not made a vaccine mandate announcement is Delta Airlines. It’s currently requiring unvaccinated employees pay an extra $200 per month for their insurance.