Southwest Airlines Flight Crews, Staff Begin Massive Sickout Over Covid-19 Vaccine Mandates
Over 1000 flights cancelled. Airline blames the weather as US passengers are forced to book alternate arrangements, or arrive home very late.
October 13, 2021
Over 1000 flights were cancelled Sunday as 1500 employees of Southwest Airlines, the nation's #5 carrier, began a sickout to protest mandatory Covid-19 vaccinations. Passengers were reportedly scrambling to book other airlines, while Southwest itself blamed the weather.
"ATC issues and disruptive weather have resulted in a high volume of cancellations throughout the weekend while we work to recover our operation. We appreciate your patience as we accommodate affected Customers, and Customer Service wait times are longer than usual," tweeted @southwestairlines in a travel advisory dated 10/9/21. "If your travel was affected, please explore self-service rebooking options by checking your flight status on http://southwest.com."
Others on twitter put forth different theories: "Airline sources: mass "sickout" @FAANews center in Jacksonville - caused ripple effect and 1000+ flight cancellations mostly effecting @SouthwestAir - report "sickout" protesting #VaccineMandate." tweeted one man. Others tweeted that flights had been cancelled and Southwest passengers returned home late after taking flights on other airlines.
Kelly McGee @Kellyradell tweeted a photo of a bemused, overworked Southwest ticket agent. "Shout out to this @SouthwestAir gate agent for being amazing during all the craziness this morning with flights. Air hugs to you! Airplane Red heart#southwest!" she posted.
"Countless Southwest Airlines employees have walked out of their jobs to oppose the vaccine mandate, causing operations to effectively shut down.
Imagine the dysfunction that we'd see when such protests are taken up by the US military, police & other sections of the working class." tweeted Alexei Arora.
Mandatory Covid vaccinations have become a lightning rod for controversy in the United States. The republican party is seen as opposing them, while Blue State governors and politicians have required vaccines to work or attend school. California is an example. Gov. Gavin Newsom saw his recent recall election victory as a plebescite on mandates. Upon winning in September, Newsom immediately required school children older than 12 to be vaccinated to attend school, and workplaces with more than 100 employees to require vaccination. LA County has recently mandated vaccines to attend indoor events.
At various times, says Wikipedia, governments and other institutions have established policies requiring vaccination, with the aim of reducing the risk of disease. For example, an 1853 law required universal vaccination against smallpox in England and Wales, with fines levied on people who did not comply. In the United States, the Supreme Court ruled in Jacobson v. Massachusetts (1905) that states have the authority to require vaccination against smallpox during a smallpox epidemic. All fifty U.S states require that children be vaccinated to attend public school, although 47 states provide exemptions based on religious or philosophical beliefs