United Airlines Announces Firing Nearly 600 Unvaccinated Employees

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United Airlines announced Tuesday that its starting the process of terminating 593 employees who failed to comply with the company’s COVID-19 vaccination requirements.

The airline reported having 99% of its 67,000 person U.S. workforce in full compliance with the company-wide vaccine mandate. While 3% of the workers have been granted religious exemption, a total of 593 employees failed to present proof of vaccination by the Sep. 27 deadline and thus had to be fired, The Washington Post reported.

“This was an incredibly difficult decision but keeping our team safe has always been our first priority,” United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby and President Brett Hart wrote in a memo circulated to employees Tuesday, according to The Hill.

“Our rationale for requiring the vaccine for all United’s U.S.-based employees was simple — to keep our people safe — and the truth is this: everyone is safer when everyone is vaccinated, and vaccine requirements work,” the memo read, according to WaPo.

While United Airlines threatened firing employees who did not comply, other airlines applied less strict approaches.

American Airlines, Alaska Airlines and Delta Air Lines have encouraged vaccination among their workforce but did not yet push such a requirement, according to WaPo. (RELATED: Most Economists Favor COVID-19 Vaccine Passports, Mandates)

Southwest Airlines rolled out an incentive program, offering a bonus of two days of pay to workers who present proof of vaccination by Nov. 15, WaPo reported.

Unvaccinated Delta Airlines employees will be required to pay a monthly healthy insurance $200 surcharge starting November 2021, The Hill reported.