Management’s Vaccine Mandate Announcement
In a Jetwire message today, American Airlines management confirmed the Company is classified as a government contractor and that, as such, is required to impose a COVID-19 vaccination mandate covering all US-based employees. Essentially, the letter does little more than confirm the applicability of the Biden mandate to American Airlines as a government contractor.
For months, APA has stood side-by-side with Mr. Parker in solidarity on the issue of mandatory COVID-19 vaccination. Our common position has been that the employees of American Airlines should be allowed to decide whether to get vaccinated based upon their own personal circumstances and beliefs. Today, the Company clearly announced that it will comply with the federal mandate and employees will no longer be afforded the opportunity to choose whether to be vaccinated. While acknowledging that news of the implementation of the mandate may be difficult for some to accept, management unambiguously announced its belief that “team members who choose to remain unvaccinated will not be able to work at American Airlines.”
Earlier this year, when we were imploring management to come to the bargaining table to craft much-needed COVID-19 protocols and protections — an effort that ultimately led to Letter of Agreement 21-002 — we emphasized that the beginning of the APA-American Airlines Joint Collective Bargaining Agreement states that “In making this Agreement the parties hereto recognize that compliance with the terms of the Agreement and the development of a spirit of cooperation is essential for mutual benefit and for the intent and purpose of this Agreement.”
We take management at its word that it is still “working through the details of the federal requirements,” but we fully expect that once they have completed those efforts, they will comply with their obligation to meet with APA representatives and negotiate over the implications of this mandate on our members. To be clear, it is APA’s position that management must negotiate the implementation and effects of a mandatory vaccination requirement on our pilots.
APA is neither anti-vaccine nor anti-mandate, but we insist on a path forward that takes into consideration our pilots’ needs and concerns while promoting a safe and healthy workplace. As we noted in our recent letter to policymakers and companion podcast, we remain committed to finding workable solutions to the pandemic-induced challenges our industry continues to face. At this pivotal time, management must demonstrate that it shares that same commitment.
CA Eric Ferguson