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ALPA Supports FDA Approval of COVID-19 Vaccine

A major aviation union is throwing their support behind the full approval of one of the COVID-19 vaccines, while calling employer-mandated vaccines a collectively bargained issue. The Air Line Pilots Association applauds the full approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, saying vaccines are critical to the aviation industry’s recovery.

The Air Line Pilots Association – which represents captains and first officers at 36 airlines, including Alaska Airlines, JetBlue, Delta Air Lines and Spirit Airlines – is openly celebrating the full approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines, without necessarily endorsing mandatory vaccination plans for employment. In a press release, the labor union applauded the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s first full approval of a vaccine for individuals 16 and up.

“ALPA believes that employer-mandated vaccinations are an issue that must be bargained”

In their statement, the ALPA celebrated the full approval as a step forward in the aviation industry’s overall recovery. When paired with other aspects, the union is optimistic about flyers returning to the skies.

“Vaccines are critical to the world’s recovery from this deadly virus and will go far in keeping the aviation sector strong,” the statement reads. “Additionally, layered prevention strategies as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control, such as wearing a mask, will also help protect the airline industry’s path to economic recovery.”

However, their statement fell short of endorsing mandatory vaccination as a term of employment. Instead, the union notes that the committees must engage their employers about inoculation plans.

“ALPA believes that employer-mandated vaccinations are an issue that must be bargained,” the statement continues. “We strongly support our individual pilot groups as they engage with their companies on this issue.”

Despite their stance, three airlines with ALPA pilot representation have moved forward with vaccination mandates. United Airlines, Frontier Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines will all require employees to get a COVID-19 vaccine to remain as part of the company. American Airlines – with pilots represented by the Allied Pilots Association – have not made vaccines a requirement.

Vaccine Approval Comes as More American Anxious About COVID-19 Spread

Both the vaccine approval and ALPA backing comes as more Americans are expressing anxiety about the COVID-19 Delta Variant, while throwing further support behind vaccination to board a commercial aircraft. In an Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll, 57 percent of the group said they were in favor of proof of vaccination to travel on an airplane, comparted to 25 percent opposed.

Feature image courtesy: National Cancer Institute on Unsplash