WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Senator Rick Scott sent a letter to Airlines for America President and CEO Nicholas Calio and National Air Carrier Association President George Novak urging the airline industry to abandon plans to impose President Biden's unconstitutional vaccine mandates on their workforce—a driving force for unemployment. Throughout the pandemic, airline employees have worked hard to keep themselves and passengers safe. Now, the Biden administration is attempting to bully hardworking Americans and threatening their livelihood by forcing a false choice: get the vaccine or lose your job.
Dear Mr. Calio/Mr. Novak:
I write to encourage you to urge your member airlines to abandon plans to impose an unconstitutional vaccine mandate on their workforce that threatens the continued employment of your pilots, flight attendants and staff who choose not to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. To be clear, I believe that the COVID-19 vaccines work and chose to become vaccinated even after recovering from COVID-19 earlier this year. I have consistently encouraged others to consult with their health care providers to consider doing the same. However, personal health decisions should not be the subject of government-imposed mandates. Additionally, punitive action against unvaccinated employees unnecessarily threatens the livelihoods of your member airlines’ hardworking pilots, flight attendants and ground crews, and risks substantial disruptions to the nation’s commercial air travel caused by anticipated staffing shortages.
In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic the commercial air industry experienced a steep decline in passenger travel, which prompted Congress to take the extraordinary step of protecting the airlines by appropriating $25 billion in loans and loan guarantees and $54 billion in payroll support through the CARES Act and the American Rescue Plan Act. These substantial funds were intended to protect the airlines’ employees from devastating furloughs or loss of employment. With that historic federal investment, your member airlines continued operating throughout 2020 and proved air travel could be performed safely for both employees and customers alike.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the commercial air travel industry has taken commendable steps to not become a vector of disease transmission thanks to effective safety protocols. With this track record of success in mitigating viral spread for airlines’ employees and customers before the COVID-19 vaccines were available, it makes no logical sense to now present the airlines’ hardworking employees with an ultimatum between involuntarily receiving a vaccine or having their employment terminated.
Although the Biden administration is attempting to coerce large employers to impose vaccine mandates on their employees, we in the Senate are not standing idly by during this gross misuse and abuse of executive power. I am working with my colleagues to use the Congressional Review Act to oppose and dismantle the Biden administration’s harmful vaccine mandates targeting large employers and federal contractors through Executive Order Number 14402 and the yet-to-be-published Emergency Temporary Standard from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. I have also filed legislation to prohibit federal agencies from requiring proof of vaccination for individuals seeking to engage in interstate commerce or to access federal programs or benefits.
I would like to applaud Southwest Airlines, which recently announced a reversal of its plan to punish unvaccinated employees. I urge your other member airlines to do the same. President Biden’s mandates, like many of his failed domestic and foreign policies, have dubious legal authority and American companies should not be bullied by the Executive Branch to impose a vaccine mandate on their employees.