Transportation

Amtrak requiring employees to be vaccinated or face testing

An Amtrak train
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Amtrak is working to restore some previously canceled trips after a tentative labor agreement was reached.

Amtrak is requiring employees to be vaccinated against the coronavirus or face weekly testing.

In a memo to employees shared with The Hill, Amtrak CEO Bill Flynn said all employees will have to be fully vaccinated by Nov. 1.

As of Oct. 4, all new hires will have to show proof of vaccination before their first day of employment.

Employees with a “valid medical reason” that they cannot get vaccinated or tested can request a “reasonable accommodation,” Flynn wrote.

Flynn acknowledged that many employees shared their apprehensions about getting inoculated, and he encouraged employees to “consult with a medical professional and seek out facts from reputable sources.”

He further said that the vaccines are “safe, effective, and lifesaving,” noting that they are “proving effective against the current surge of variants.”

“We did not come to these decisions lightly, and we understand it may take some time to process, which is why we are providing you with time to prepare,” Flynn wrote. “While we recognize this is a personal decision for each of us, we are confident it is in the long-term best interest for our colleagues, our customers and our company.”

An Amtrak spokesperson told The Hill that 50.2 percent of Amtrak employees have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccination.

Amtrak is offering pay protection for fully vaccinated employees who have to quarantine after testing positive for COVID-19. Unvaccinated employees will not have pay protection for employees, but their quarantine absence will be excused.

The move comes as the public and private sectors mandate vaccinations amid an increase in coronavirus infections fueled by the rise of the delta variant.

In the transportation sector, United Airlines said Friday that it will require its U.S. employees to be vaccinated five weeks after the Food and Drug Administration approves the vaccines or by Oct. 25, whichever comes first. It is the first airline to implement such mandate. 

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced earlier this month that employees of New York’s Metropolitan Transit Authority and Port Authority will have to be vaccinated by Labor Day or face weekly virus testing.

Tags Amtrak Andrew Cuomo COVID-19 Transportation Vaccine hesitancy
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