Southwest Scraps Plan To Put Unvaccinated Staff on Unpaid Leave Following Protests

"Initially, we communicated that these Employees would be put on unpaid leave and that is no longer the case," the airline told its workers.

Image Credits: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images.

Southwest Airlines has abandoned plans to put unvaccinated workers on unpaid leave following employee-led demonstrations outside its Dallas headquarters.

Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate requires federal contractors like Southwest Airlines have its workforce take the COVID injection by Dec. 8 unless they are exempt for medical or religious reasons.

Southwest executives sent an email to staff Tuesday urging employees to get the injection or apply for an exemption by November 24, assuring employees that if their exemptions requests were denied, they could reapply if there was “new information or circumstances it would like the Company to consider,” CNBC reported.

The executives also said employees may still continue working at the company “as we coordinate with them on meeting the requirements (vaccine or valid accommodation).”

“This is a change from what was previously communicated. Initially, we communicated that these Employees would be put on unpaid leave and that is no longer the case,” they wrote in the note.

This comes just a day after hundreds of Southwest employees protested outside the airline’s headquarters at the Dallas Love Field Airport.

“Southwest acknowledges various viewpoints regarding the Covid-19 vaccine, and we have always supported, and will continue to support, our employees’ right to express themselves, with open lines of communication to share issues and concerns,” a Southwest spokesperson said Monday.

This is a good start, but Southwest Airlines should abandon Biden’s vaccine mandate entirely and stand behind its tagline, “A symbol of freedom.”


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