It’s Working: SouthWest Airlines CEO Says “I’m Not Going to Fire Anyone” For Not Being Vaccinated

As you probably know, earlier this month, Southwest Airlines was forced to cancel over 2000+ due to, and I’m going to try to choose my words carefully here, a sizable number of coincidental “objections” from pilots. Southwest blamed “air traffic control issues” and “weather” for the mass cancelations, but Debra Heine of American Greatness was able to get in contact with a Southwest Pilot and get the real scoop:

Southwest Airlines canceled more than 2,000 flights Friday through Sunday, and hundreds more on Monday because employees called in sick, or refused to sign up for overtime hours over the holiday weekend, a Southwest Airlines pilot told American Greatness.

Southwest blamed “air traffic control issues” and inclement weather for the cancelled flights, but the problems were actually a direct result of the airline’s announcement on October 4 that all of its 56,000 U.S. employees were required be vaccinated against COVID-19 or face termination.

Southwest Airlines (LUV) stock plunged Monday after the airline experienced the massive cancellations and delays.

The carrier’s 10,000 pilots “are the most conservative collection of white collar employees in the country,” explained the pilot, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of reprisal. He estimated that at least 60 to 70 percent of pilots at Southwest are, like himself, former military.

The tyrannical mandate, he explained, erased all of the good will pilots and other conservative employees had felt toward their company.

That newfound ill will manifested itself over the three day weekend, not with an organized strike, but with many disgruntled employees calling in sick, or not signing up for overtime to help the airline fulfill the increase in flights typical for a holiday weekend.

Gary Kelly, the CEO of Southwest, told employees last week that the airline had no choice but to comply with the regime’s vaccine mandate.

“Southwest Airlines is a federal contractor and we have no viable choice but to comply with the U.S. government mandate for employees to be vaccinated, and — like other airlines — we’re taking steps to comply,” Kelly said.

I do sympathize with the CEO here. The government was basically forcing him to force his employees to get jabbed.

The pilot told American Greatness that the mandate did not sit well with him or his colleagues.

“This is a collection of very conservative white collar professionals that are very successful, and have done well,” he said. “You mandate a vaccine on them—and these aren’t necessarily people that are going to comply,” he explained, adding “to some extent they’re going to resist.”

He said that over the holiday weekend, Southwest probably saw a 20 percent increase in flights, and relied on the goodwill of pilots to fly those extra trips.

The way Southwest schedules these flights these days, he said, is they rely on a significant number of pilots to pick up an extra trip for time and a half overtime pay. That time and a half pay is usually enough of a enticement to draw the needed number of pilots to fly those trips, he said. After the vaccine mandate, however, Southwest shouldn’t have expected any pilots to sign up for those extra flights, he said.

So it wasn’t a walk-out or a strike or anything. Those pilots were not scheduled to work for those flights. They were just expected by the company to pick up overtime hours for time-and-a-half pay, like they’ve always done. It’s how Southwest airlines operates–they literally rely on pilots picking up extra shifts.

The same was true for the pilots who called in sick.

“Let’s say I was supposed to work this past weekend after this vaccine mandate, and you know what, I’m going to lose my sick days in a month or 45 days, so I might as well just use them now and stay at home and help potty-train my two year old, you know what I mean?” the pilot said. “These are my sick days, and I own them, they’re mine.”

He continued: “So you have some people calling in sick, and then you have this extra 20 percent of flights that they’re relying on people to come out there and cover,” the pilot explained.  “And people like me are saying, a week ago, you mandated me to do something I’m not comfortable doing—so these are the dominos beginning to fall.

So it was a mass protest against the vaccine mandates, just done through perfectly legal means. These guys didn’t just no-show for flights they were scheduled to make. They simply refused to pick up the extra shifts that the company has come to rely on them regularly picking up. The pilot is very careful to say it wasn’t organized, it was all spontaneous, but we can read between the lines.

“I knew what the consequences of what me doing that would do,” he said. I knew it would make a tight weekend even tighter, but did I know that there would be maybe a hundred other people doing it? No. I did not know that.

He defended his action, saying, “all I was doing was using my sick days before I get terminated.”

You cheeky bastard.

How to: Respond to a Negative Glassdoor Review

Anyway, it appears the CEO of Southwest has seen the light: it’s kinda hard to run an airline without pilots.

About an hour ago, it was reported that Southwest Airlines has backed off on the vaccine mandate:

Only half of Southwest Airlines’ 56,000 employees have reported their vaccination status or applied for accommodation, said CEO Gary Kelly, with little more than a month to go before the Biden administration’s deadline for airline staff to do so.

The airline risks losing its federal contracts should staffers not be fully vaccinated by the December 8 deadline. The U.S. government is the airline’s biggest client, Kelly said.

In an interview Thursday with CBS News, Kelly said of those who have submitted their status, “a supermajority are vaccinated” and those who are not are being offered a financial incentive to get vaccinated.

“I’m not going to fire anybody,” he said.

Of course you’re not. Because you need pilots.

And what’s this about Biden’s “deadline” for airline staff to be vaccinated?

If all the pilots band together and refuse to get the vaccine, then they have essentially nullified the idea of a deadline.

Biden: “You all better be JABBED UP by Marchtober 47th!”

Panicked staffer quickly whispers in his ear: “Uh, Joe, it’s December 8th.”

Biden: “You all better be JABBED UP by December 8th!”

Or else what? You gonna fire all the pilots just before Christmas, Joe?

You cannot impose a deadline on people you have no leverage over.

I’m imposing a deadline of November 1 for Jeff Bezos to give me $1 billion as a gift with no strings attached. It’s definitely going to work. He has to respect the deadline.

The airline pilots aren’t stupid (at least I hope they’re not). They know if they all band together and refuse to comply they can completely shut this whole country down.

But even if the federal government is saying they’ll cancel all their contracts with Southwest, will they really do it? Sure, they could threaten to just give those contracts to other airlines, but could the other airlines handle them? I’m sure they’re having issues similar to those Southwest is facing.

Anyway, back to the article:

“I’m very much for ending this pandemic … but it doesn’t translate into imposing my will on people who are reluctant to get the vaccine for whatever reason,” he said. Staff who cannot get vaccinated need to “seek an accommodation, either for medical or religious reasons,” Kelly said, which is permitted under President Joe Biden’s executive order.

Yeah, I’m with you, Gary. I’m very much for ending this pandemic as well.

But what does that have to do with the vaccines?

On Monday, dozens of protestors demonstrated outside the airline’s Dallas, Texas headquarters, and its pilot union filed a restraining order this month to prevent members from having to comply. Texas Governor Greg Abbott has issued an executive order prohibiting vaccine mandates, which Kelly said he agrees with.

Of course you do. Now you do, after you were faced with a mass revolt.

The airline recently reversed its policy to put unvaccinated staff awaiting approval for an exemption to be placed on “unpaid leave” in an effort to calm fears over unemployment.

Okay, this was my fear after seeing the headline, because the headline of the article only said unvaxed Southwest employees weren’t going to be fired. I assumed that meant they’d just place them on unpaid leave in lieu of firing them. But apparently not.

American Airlines, also based in Texas, issued a statement saying Abbot’s executive order wouldn’t change its requirements and the company intends to follow the federal guidance, which it believes “supersedes any conflicting state laws.”

Well, this is sad. American is my favorite airline, and I fly them whenever I can. But not anymore. What an unbelievably cucked company American is.

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