Southwest has caved and will not place unvaccinated workers on unpaid leave after the December 8 deadline.
Thousands of Southwest flights were canceled after pilots and employees boycotted the company’s vaccine mandate.
The pilots led the way and sued Southwest.
The Southwest Airlines Pilots Association fought the tyranny in court.
“The new vaccine mandate unlawfully imposes new conditions of employment and the new policy threatens termination of any pilot not fully vaccinated by December 8, 2021,” the legal filing said. “Southwest Airlines’ additional new and unilateral modification of the parties’ collective bargaining agreement is in clear violation of the RLA.”
Southwest changed direction just one day after its employees gathered outside of the airline’s headquarters in Dallas to protest the company’s vaccine mandate.
Southwest Airlines has scrapped a plan to put unvaccinated employees who have applied for but haven’t received a religious or medical exemption on unpaid leave starting by a federal deadline in December.
Southwest’s senior vice president of operations and hospitality, Steve Goldberg, and Julie Weber, vice president and chief people officer, wrote to staff on Friday that if employees’ requests for an exemption haven’t been approved by Dec. 8, they could continue to work while following mask and distancing guidelines until the request has been reviewed.
The company is giving employees until Nov. 24 to finish their vaccinations or apply for an exemption. It will continue paying them while the company reviews their requests, and said it will allow those who are rejected to continue working “as we coordinate with them on meeting the requirements (vaccine or valid accommodation).”
“This is a change from what was previously communicated. Initially, we communicated that these Employees would be put on unpaid leave and that is no longer the case,” they wrote in the note, which was reviewed by CNBC.
Southwest confirmed the policy change, which comes just weeks before the deadline.