It’s a stance that differs from what some other carriers and companies have recently said. United had more than 60,000 active U.S. employees at the end of 2020 and has sent recall notices to some 17,000 other workers whose jobs were cut last year.
“The worst thing that I believe I will ever do in my career is the letters that I have written to the surviving family members of coworkers that we have lost to the coronavirus,” CEO Scott Kirby said at an employee town hall Thursday, a transcript of which was reviewed by CNBC. “And so, for me, because I have confidence in the safety of the vaccine – and I recognize it’s controversial – I think the right thing to do is for United Airlines, and for other companies, to require the vaccines and to make them mandatory.”
Kirby acknowledged logistical challenges to getting staff vaccinated.
Airline employees are considered essential workers and are among the first groups to receive the vaccines. But the rollout so far has been slow and chaotic with the nation running behind targets.
“I don’t think United will get away with and can realistically be the only company that requires vaccines and makes them mandatory,” he said. “We need some others. We need some others to show leadership. Particularly in the healthcare industry.”
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SOURCE: CNBC, Leslie Josephs