Southwest Airlines has asked a federal court to reject a request by the airline’s pilots union to temporarily block a COVID-19 vaccine mandate, reports Bloomberg.
The Southwest Airlines Pilots Association (SWAPA) sued earlier this month in order to prevent the company from mandating that its workers receive the coronavirus vaccine, saying that the airline illegally changed work rules rather than negotiating with them. The vaccine mandate "unlawfully imposes new conditions of employment and the new policy threatens termination of any pilot."
But the company’s lawyers said in its court filing that the injunction SWAPA seeks "is extraordinary," according to Time. The airline also argued that if the court sided with SWAPA, it could potentially cause the cancelation of Southwest’s contracts with the federal government, citing President Joe Biden’s early September announcement that federal workers and contractors must get vaccinated unless they get a religious or medical exemption. Because Southwest is a federal contractor that provides the government services, it says it must mandate the vaccine.
SWAPA added that the vaccines pose a unique risk to pilots, arguing that any adverse reaction to the shot could affect a pilot’s ability to clear the required medical standards to fly an airplane. Additionally, Federal Aviation Administration rules prohibit pilots from working for 48 hours after receiving a vaccine.
SWAPA’s leadership posted a statement to its website saying that the union “is not anti-vaccination, but we do believe that, under all circumstances, it is our role to represent the health and safety of our Pilots and bring their concerns to the company.”
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