Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly spoke out against President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandates in an interview on Tuesday with CNBC, suggesting that his company only followed the rule because they had to.
“I’ve never been in favor of corporations imposing that kind of a mandate. I’m not in favor of that. Never have been,” Kelly said. “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 [vaccine] mandate … in place by Dec. 8, so we’re working through that.”
The claim was met with skepticism from some, who noted that woke corporations like Southwest were using Biden’s bluster as a convenient scapegoat since no actual executive order exists on paper.
Pilots also scoffed at the idea that Biden could coerce them into compliance, warning that they held all the chips should they decide to strike.
“I believe in freedom, and I’m here to support the freedom of my fellow employees and all people across this country,” said Joshua Yoder, co-founder of U.S. Freedom Flyers, on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News show Monday.
“I’m not going to take a mandate,” Yoder continued. “I’m not going to be forced to do something I don’t believe in.”
Southwest issued an edict last week to its 56,000 employees, ordering them to get the vaccine by Dec. 8 or lose their jobs.
Kelly emphasized that the purpose of the mandate is “to improve health and safety” while ensuring that “no one loses their job.”
This will be little comfort to those who are forced out of their careers.
Psaki on whether vaccine mandates has caused the work force to shrink: “I know, uh, world renowned business, travel, & health expert, Senator @TedCruz has made that point, but, um, I wouldn’t say that that is widely acknowledged or echoed by business leaders” or “health experts” pic.twitter.com/kQnLbGrm1t
— Curtis Houck (@CurtisHouck) October 12, 2021
When asked about the mandates driving workers out of the workforce, Psaki proceeded to derisively mock Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas.
“I know, uh, world-renowned business, travel and health expert, Sen. Ted Cruz has made that point,” Psaki said. “But, I wouldn’t say that that is widely acknowledged or echoed by business leaders who have implemented these mandates or by health experts who have conveyed the way to get out of the pandemic is to ensure we are doing exactly the steps the president has announced and we are working to implement.”
Psaki did admit that there has been “hubbub” around Southwest’s labor shortage, but drawing on her extensive knowledge, clarified that “some of those claims were absolutely false.”
Pilots and other airline workers have warned about the dire effects of the mandate, warning that the holiday season could be disastrous.
“If you have flights reduced by 30% because 30% of pilots are fired because they won’t take the vaccine, this is going to affect how your goods get here from overseas, how they are distributed to the store,” one pilot said.
“The same thing is happening with the truckers, it’s happening in the shipping industry. Those Amazon boxes that typically show up in two days, you might be looking at three weeks,” he added.