In the southwest, employees of US airlines will have to get vaccinated, despite order from Texas

Abbott signed a sweeping ordinance on Monday effectively banning vaccination warrants for private companies with 100 or more employees. Last month, the Biden administration said it would require companies with 100 or more employees to prescribe vaccines or receive weekly Covid tests.

American Airlines said it was also reviewing Abbott’s order and that until now airline officials “believed the federal vaccine mandate to prevail over all laws in the conflicting states, and that doesn’t change. nothing for American “.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki called the legal tenure of federal warrants “unchallengeable” and said Abbott was just playing politics.

“We have seen economist after economist, and frankly, many business leaders who have worked on the implementation of mandates that the implementation of these mandates creates certainty and reduces the number of unemployed sick people. , and worse, ”Psaki said. “It’s good for business at the end of the day, it’s good for the economy,” she said, adding that it saves lives.

“At the end of the day, we will continue to implement the law, which the President of the United States has the ability, the authority – the legal authority to do, and we will continue to work to get more vaccinated. people, to get out of this pandemic, ”Psaki said. “The president will use all the levers at his disposal to achieve this.”

Background: Southwest recently announced that, like its sister airlines, its contracts with the federal government require “full compliance” with the Federal Immunization Directive. That means its employees must be fully immunized or have religious, medical, or disability exemption by December 8 to continue working – the same date that federal contractors must prove they have been vaccinated.

The administration said it would seek to amend their civilian reserve air fleet contracts to require airline employees to be vaccinated, a move that key Republicans on the House transport committee and its subcommittee on the air force described as “insulting” given the airline’s contribution to the CRAF during evacuations in Afghanistan.

The Southwest Airlines Pilots Association, its pilots union, first asked for exemptions from the current term last month, asking members of the administration to reconsider their decision.

The union went further on Friday with a legal deposit in a Dallas federal court to temporarily block the vaccine requirement as it settles another dispute with Southwest involving allegations of unfair labor practices during Covid.

Where it is happening: The Abbott executive order is similar to that issued by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis who ordered the state to sue federal authorities to require cruise ship passengers to prove their vaccination status before boarding a ship. A judge ruled last month that cruise lines cannot ban vaccine passports; Florida is trying to appeal the decision.

The Abbott-Biden vaccine mandate launch competition is also expected to go to court.

When asked for a response at Abbott on Tuesday, the White House underscored the vaccine’s mandate guidelines for government contractors issued through the Office of Management and Budget on September 24. This states that federal contractors and subcontractors “are promulgated in accordance with federal law and supersede any contrary state or local law or ordinance” and “nothing in this guide shall excuse failure to comply with any applicable law. state or municipal by-law. ”

The DOT could overtake Abbott’s executive order by using its broad consumer protection power to demand that pilots and flight attendants be vaccinated. However, it is unlikely to do so in the absence of a White House directive. So far, the Biden administration has preferred to use the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to implement and analyze its mandates, creating a more comprehensive app rather than designating individual agencies to do the job.

OSHA is reviewing the matter and is expected to publish the regulations in the coming weeks.

Julian EJ Sorapuru contributed to this report.

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