The union representing pilots for American Airlines warned the company that it will face severe staffing shortages if it continues to enforce President Joe Biden’s coronavirus vaccine mandate.
American Airlines, along with most other airlines, announced that all employees must be vaccinated by the end of November or face termination as a result of Biden’s federal contractor vaccine mandate.
In response, the Allied Pilots Association urged the company to find “alternate means of compliance” with Biden’s executive order so as not to prompt mass resignations.
“Some of APA’s members are unable to undergo vaccination for documented medical reasons, while others are reluctant to get vaccinated based upon concerns about the potential for career-ending side effects,” the union said in a letter.
“All of those members are still able to perform their duties as professional pilots,” the letter continued. “To force those pilots out of their positions, rather than offering viable alternatives will have adverse consequences upon their families and the airline industry as a whole.”
Southwest Airlines is also experiencing flight backlogs and cancellations just one week after announcing its own vaccine mandate.
The company has pushed back on the idea that recent cancellations are the result of staff protests, blaming the meltdown on “bad weather” and air traffic control issues.
However, just last week, a union representing Southwest’s pilots took the company to court in protest of the vaccine mandate. Union officials alleged the airline violated federal labor laws by rolling out the mandate without negotiating the changes.
The rest of the transportation sector is also feeling the effects of Biden’s mandate. Staffing shortages at ports and trucking firms nationwide have created massive backlogs, leading some experts to predict a total breakdown of the supply chain if something does not change.
The “supply chain is definitely disrupted and has been for some time,” said Mario Cordero, the executive director of the Port of Long Beach, the largest container port complex in the U.S. “[The] situation is in a crisis mode.”