Nearly 600 United employees slated to be fired for declining vaccine

Approximately 96% of United’s U.S.-based employees received at least their first vaccination shot for Covid-19 ahead of the carrier’s Sept. 28 deadline. 

Another 3% of United employees have applied for an exemption to the company’s vaccination mandate on either religious or health grounds, leaving 593 employees for whom the termination process will begin as soon as Wednesday. 

In a media briefing on Tuesday, a United spokesman said the firings won’t impact airline operations. 

CEO Scott Kirby touted the mandate program as an “historic achievement” for the carrier in a letter to employees. 

“Everyone is safer when everyone is vaccinated, and vaccine requirements work,” he wrote.

United is the largest U.S. carrier to have implemented a vaccine mandate for employees and was also the first. Hawaiian is also requiring employees to get vaccinated. 

Employees who applied for an exemption will continue working at the airline until at least Oct. 15 as United deals with a legal challenge to its exemption policy. 

A company spokesman said that the mandate has helped recruiting since the carrier announced it in early August.

“There are a number of highly qualified candidates who have applied for employment at United specifically because of this requirement,” the spokesman said.

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