Republican lawmakers criticize the Biden administration for pressuring the aviation industry to impose Covid-19 vaccines on its workers.
Pressure airlines to impose vaccination warrants on their employees and fire those who do not comply is “unacceptable”, member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure ranking Sam Graves (R-Mo.) And Garret Graves (La.), The top Republican on the aviation subcommittee, wrote to President Joe Biden on Thursday.
Workers and industry groups in the transportation sector have started to push back on the federal vaccine mandate. Pilots at Southwest Airlines Company. and American Airlines Group Inc. this week opposed the warrants announced by these carriers. The trucking and construction industries have also raised concerns.
“We urge you to rethink this ill-conceived mandate which will result in the dismissal of employees whose jobs have been saved in the past 18 months at enormous cost to taxpayers,” lawmakers said in their letter, referring to funds that airlines received during the pandemic through the Payroll Support Program.
Biden announced last month that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration would introduce regulations to require private sector companies that employ 100 or more workers to require either proof of vaccination or weekly testing.
OSHA is still working on making its rules, but the Biden administration is pushing companies to act now. He urged airlines to impose vaccines by Dec. 8 before regulations are released, lawmakers say. This is the same deadline that federal contractors must meet to have their employees vaccinated.
“These requirements are already proving they are working,” Biden said Thursday in Illinois. “I am calling on more employers to act.
Most of the biggest US airlines have announced vaccination warrants. United Airlines Holdings Inc. was the first to demand that employees get vaccinated and said he was firing workers who refused. Biden praised United in Thursday’s speech, touting how the company went from a 59% vaccination rate to 99% in less than two months.
American Airlines and Southwest announced this week that their employees must be vaccinated by November 24. Delta Air Lines Inc. does not have decided how it will handle the federal vaccine mandate, but increase insurance premiums for unvaccinated employees.
After Southwest announced its tenure, the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association said the airline had come under “pressure” from the federal government and the union was filing a temporary restraining order to prevent the company from meeting the requirement. .
American Airlines’ announcement also caused a setback. Workers protested outside the company’s headquarters in Fort Worth, Texas on Thursday on Dallas Morning News reported.
The Allied Pilots Association, which represents 15,000 American Airlines pilots, has to reach to the administration and Congress about its concerns, noting that some of its members cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons, while others are reluctant because of the “potential for side effects ending their career”.
The group also warned of the risk of pilot shortages if pilots are to be laid off or must refrain from flying for the 48 hours required by the federal government after each dose. They called for “another means of compliance” for professional pilots in a letter sent to 15 officials last month
Companies in the transportation industry have raised questions about upcoming regulations, with the Chamber of Commerce sending a long list of questions to the labor secretary about the mandate.
The requirements “threaten to cause further disruption throughout the supply chain,” Chris Spear, president and CEO of the American Trucking Associations. noted.
Dave Bauer, president and CEO of the American Road & Transportation Builders Association, said many transportation construction companies are concerned about the mandate, raising questions about keeping records of vaccine information, side effects and free time to get vaccinated. Bauer also asked OSHA to consider its workers to be in “low risk environments.”
“Our members work primarily outdoors, building or maintaining highways, bridges, transit and rail facilities, airport runways and seaports,” said Bauer. in a letter at OSHA. “Transportation construction personnel are often operating equipment in isolation or performing tasks that facilitate social distancing.”
The Construction Industry Safety Coalition, which represents a collection of industry trade groups, Express similar concerns in a letter to OSHA, writing that they were disappointed that there was no formal public comment period, as the low risk, “there is no” serious danger “in the construction industry that would warrant “a temporary emergency standard,” the letter said.
To contact the reporter on this story: Lillianna byington in Washington at [email protected]