United Airlines CEO wants to make the vaccine mandatory for workers

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United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby told employees this week that he wants to make it mandatory for workers to take the coronavirus vaccine.

“I know the vaccines are safe. I know that it’s the way to ensure the safety of our employees, ensure the safety of our customers, as we fly around the world. So, if others go along and are willing to start to mandate vaccines, you should probably expect United to be amongst the first wave of companies that do it,” Kirby said at a town hall on Thursday, according to a transcript obtained by The Hill.

Other major companies have not announced if they would make the vaccine mandatory yet, but Kirby stressed at the town hall that it is something he is strongly considering.

“One, we have to have the logistic challenges worked out.” He said. “But, two, I don’t think United will get away with and can realistically be the only company that requires vaccines and makes them mandatory. We need some others. We need some others to show leadership. Particularly in the health care industry.”

United had 60,000 active U.S.-based employees at the end of 2020. Since the start of the new year, the airline has issued recall notices to about 17,000 more employees following additional relief for airlines included in the latest coronavirus relief package.

Airlines and unions have lobbied to get air travel workers early on the vaccine distribution list and they are considered essential workers.

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