Southwest Airlines, union says pilots did not walk out to protest vaccine mandates

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Southwest Airlines and the union representing its pilots say that crew members did not call out of work sick to protest vaccine mandates, leading to...
Southwest Airlines and the union representing its pilots say that crew members didn't call out of work sick to protest vaccine mandates and cripple the carrier's operations during the busy holiday weekend.

The Dallas-based airline has canceled more than 2,000 flights since Friday afternoon, citing a mix of bad weather, air traffic control issues and military flight maneuvers in Florida for causing a cascade of slowdowns that crippled its network through the weekend.

"The weekend challenges were not a result of employee demonstrations, as some have reported," said a statement from Southwest Airlines spokeswoman Brandy King. "We have a closer to normal operation today, navigating some new weather across our system."

The wave of cancellations came just days after Southwest Airlines announced that all employees would need to be vaccinated to comply with White House-imposed mandates for federal contractors. Several employee groups have objected to the mandates, including the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association, which filed for an injunction in federal court over the vaccine mandate in relation to another lawsuit from the union against the carrier.

Politicians were quick to jump on the vaccine mandate as the cause.

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, tweeted that Southwest's troubles were evidence of "Joe Biden's illegal vaccine mandate at work! Suddenly, we're short on pilots & air traffic controllers." Arizona Rep. Andy Biggs tweeted that he stands with Southwest employees fighting the mandates.

Joe Biden's illegal vaccine mandate at work!

Suddenly, we're short on pilots & air traffic controllers.#ThanksJoe https://t.co/wviOzLt7Iv — Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) October 10, 2021

Donald Trump Jr., son of the former president, also joined in, blaming the media for suppressing protest news about vaccine mandates overseas and calling the weekend flight cancellations a "strike."

American media have blacked out the massive anti-mandate protests overseas so the Southwest strike might…
Kyle Arnold
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