Union For American Airlines Employees Expects Some To Leave Over Vaccine Mandate

Thursday, October 7th 2021, 4:12 pm

TULSA, Oklahoma -

The union for Tulsa's American Airlines workers expects hundreds of employees to leave the company now that COVID-19 vaccines are mandatory with no opt-outs.

Employees at American Airlines have been given a choice: get vaccinated or be terminated. A mechanic of 33 years said this is devastating.

"Basically, it's either get the shot or get fired," said Monty Steele.

Steele is an aircraft maintenance technician at American Airlines in Tulsa and said he got the news late last week.

"It said because part of our business is hauling mail and part is emergency transportation of troops, that President Biden has considered us a government contractor," he said.

Steele said because of personal reasons and with immunity from having COVID previously, he doesn't want the shot. Now he must make a choice: retire five years early or get fired and see if he can possibly be a part of a lawsuit.

"It's a position nobody should be in," Steele said.

Marla Johnson with the Transport Workers Union said she's worried they'll lose hundreds of employees right before the holiday travel season.

"We have older people who have been at work for 30 to 40 years willing to give up their livelihoods because of these mandates," said Johnson.

Johnson said more than 500 people of the 4,500 in their union have contacted her, either opposing or asking about the mandates.

There are exemptions listed for religious and medical reasons and Steele said he's applied for a religious exemption, but Johnson said she still doesn't know how those will be accommodated. She urges people to fill them out and contact both the company and state leaders.  

"It's going to be a large impact on our company financially and our customers flying in the holidays," she said.

Employees have until November 24 to submit proof of vaccination.