Southwest Pilots Union Says Vaccine Mandate, ‘Sickouts’ Not to Blame for Canceled Flights

The union representing Southwest Airlines pilots disputed allegations that its members held a mass sickout due to the company’s COVID-19 vaccine mandates. Over the weekend and Monday, Southwest canceled more than 2,000 flights, according to tracking website FlightAware, while the firm blamed inclement weather, and an executive claimed that staffing shortages may be to blame. On social media and beyond, there were claims that pilots were engaging in mass “sickouts,” or when workers use their sick leave to stay home in a concerted effort to send a message about the vaccine mandate. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) speculated on Twitter that the cancelations were “Joe Biden’s illegal vaccine mandate a work,” adding that “suddenly, we’re short on pilots [and] air traffic controllers.” Cruz was referring to an executive order mandating vaccines for federal workers and federal contractors. Southwest last week announced it would mandate vaccines for its employees, with some exemptions, as …

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