Aug 6, 2021 - Economy

United becomes first major U.S. airline to mandate vaccines for employees

United Airlines employee

Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

United Airlines will require its 67,000 U.S. employees to be vaccinated by Oct. 25 or risk being fired, CNBC reports.

Why it matters: It's the first major U.S. airline to impose a vaccine mandate, in a move that will likely increase pressure on its competitors to do the same.

  • Employees must upload proof of vaccination five weeks after the FDA offers full approval to the Pfizer, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson vaccines, or by Oct. 25 — whichever comes first, according to CNBC.
  • Exemptions will be made for religious or health reasons.

The big picture: United is the latest in a string of corporate giants to announce a vaccine mandate, joining Tyson Foods, Microsoft, Facebook, Google, Walmart and others.

The other side: American Airlines CEO Doug Parker told the New York Times' Kara Swisher that the company will offer incentives for employees to get vaccinated — such as an extra day of vacation and a $50 gift card — but does not plan on imposing mandates on either employees or customers.

What they're saying: “We know some of you will disagree with this decision to require the vaccine for all United employees,” United CEO Scott Kirby and President Brett Hart said in a letter to employees.

  • "But, we have no greater responsibility to you and your colleagues than to ensure your safety when you’re at work, and the facts are crystal clear: everyone is safer when everyone is vaccinated," they continued.
  • "Over the last 16 months, Scott has sent dozens of condolences letters to the family members of United employees who have died from COVID-19. We’re determined to do everything we can to try to keep another United family from receiving that letter."
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