American Airlines is pushing its employees to request vaccine exemptions in order to work at the company. The airline has been criticized for the new policy, which some say will put passengers at risk.
Employees at American Airlines are being pushed to get vaccine exemptions by the company’s top management.
on October 19, 2021 by Gary Leff
American Airlines President Robert Isom fielded questions from workers during a town hall meeting in Miami on Thursday. If there was any inside footage of the incident, it was reportedly taken down immediately. However, I was able to watch the conversation, and every single inquiry and objection was related to the upcoming vaccine mandate for government contractor workers.
My impression from watching Isom is consistent with what I’ve heard elsewhere: management is obviously concerned about the future of their business, knowing that they have thousands of unvaccinated workers and that emotions are running high.
- The federal government gives them a lot of money, from cargo to CRAF subsidies to contracts to transport federal workers on certain routes. According to Isom, this is worth “hundreds of millions of dollars.” They are unwilling to give up this in order to meet the demands of unvaccinated workers.
- However, they must continue to operate their business, and according to one estimate, over 4000 pilots remain uninfected.
The result is that management is pleading with workers not just to be vaccinated, but also to seek vaccine exemptions, and even talking to them about how to have their exemption requests granted.
“If you’re not vaccinated, you really need to find an accommodation,” said the President of the United States. He warns that the application procedure “may be long” and “may take some time,” and that “everyone will continue to work” throughout it. “If you’re not vaccinated, please find a method to remain with the business,” Isom adds.
When we were talking about the exemption procedure, Isom said:
- “I’m telling you, we’re going to work hard to make sure that individuals who need medical accommodations, both medical and religious, may continue to work.”
- “For everyone else who decides not to be vaccinated and does not seek an accommodation, we will work with you after the 24th, we will, to attempt to find a method to persuade people to get vaccinated or… (he is interrupted by another speaker).”
Cedric Rockamore, a former Dallas hub manager who now works in HR, adds
If you require an ADA medical or religious accommodation, our objective is to keep everyone in this room, so we won’t be removing individuals from the company…so we’ll be working with people and while we figure out the procedure and make sure that it covers everyone, they’ll continue to work.
Another executive recommended they remove the question down when an employee asked what to write on the papers to guarantee exemptions are granted.
Faced with strong anti-vaccine sentiment – certainly, workers who come up are self-selecting and more likely than average to be hostile to the topic at the time — and persuading businesses to use vaccinations “The greatest single concern [businesses have about returning to business travel] is going in an unvaccinated environment,” says Robert Isom. That struck me as strange, since American does not need passengers to be vaccinated in order to guarantee that the person in the middle seat next to a business traveler is also vaccinated.
American updated its FAQs on the vaccination requirement for employment and how to get an exemption on Tuesday. Employees may apparently file an accommodation request, which will take’some time’ to evaluate (possibly until after the Christmas travel crunch) – and if the request is rejected, they will still have time to be vaccinated.