United Airlines, union agree against mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for pilots

FILE PHOTO: FILE PHOTO: United Airlines president Scott Kirby speaks at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago
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(Reuters) - United Airlines and its pilots' union have reached an agreement to prohibit the airline from mandating COVID-19 vaccinations to its pilots, the Air Line Pilots Association said on Monday.

"Since the COVID vaccination is not mandatory, pilots who elect not to be vaccinated will not be subject to any discipline," the agreement stated.

United's chief executive officer, Scott Kirby, had told workers at a meeting in January that the company may make the vaccine mandatory for employees and urged other companies to do the same.

The agreement between the airline and the union also adds that those pilots who have been vaccinated would be eligible for extra pay.

Earlier this month, Delta Air Lines said it would require all new hires in the United States to be vaccinated against the coronavirus.

American Airlines had said in January it does not plan to make vaccinations mandatory for pilots and other employees unless it was mandatory for entry into certain destinations.

While private U.S. companies can require employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19, experts have said they could put themselves at risk of legal and cultural backlash if they do so.

(Reporting by Radhika Anilkumar in Bengaluru and Tracy Rucinski; Editing by Ramakrishnan M.)