Pilots sue Southwest Airlines over vaccine mandate

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This past weekend was one full of frustration and bitter moments for all of those who found themselves stuck in one of the dozens of airports affected by the flight cancellations of Southwest Airlines. The company at the time was very fast to blame all of it’s woos on weather, ATC issues and other miscellaneous facts.

From the Cockpit

Since then, the rumors of a work force stand down, by the pilots mainly, has been doing the rounds. But without any veritable source of confirmation, they were kept on the back burner as a possibility but never taken as facts. Today we know better and can confirm rumors as facts. 

The Southwest Airlines Pilots Association (SWAPA) is taking a stand in the matter of the vaccine mandates which are placing them against the wall and forcing them to choose between their freedom of decision and their livelihood, and are filing a lawsuit against their employer, Southwest Airlines. 

SWAPA through their attorneys, Gillespie Sanford, is filing for an injunction to stop several of the actions decided by the company regarding their infectious disease control policy. Most importantly to stop the rule that would enforce vaccination against COVID-19 by December 8, 2021 or face termination. 

If granted, the temporary injunction filed before a Federal Court in Dallas would grant them an immediate hearing before the court. The union asserts that the carrier has violated the terms under the Railway Labor Act and its vaccine mandates. One of the issues that SWAPA is arguing states that it is unknown if future side effects of the vaccine will affect a pilot’s ability to clear the medical requirements needed to fly.

Southwest has said in the past that they do not need to negotiate with SWAPA over COVID-19 mandates. In a statement in their website the union leadership states: 

We want to be perfectly clear: SWAPA 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.”

The case is Southwest Airlines Pilots Association v. Southwest Airlines Co.,3:21-cv-02065-M, filed in the U.S. District Court, Northern District of Texas in Dallas. 

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    By: Alfonso Vázquez

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