Southwest and American, two of the nation’s Texas-based airlines, will defy Governor Greg Abbott’s ban on vaccine mandates. The two airlines head a group of Texas-based companies that will proceed with mandating vaccines for its employees.
These businesses said that they will comply with federal law, which supersedes state law.
Southwest Airlines and American Airlines To Ignore State Ban on Vaccine Mandates
Last week, Southwest Airlines ordered all 55,000 employees to undergo COVID-19 vaccination by December 8. This follows a directive from President Joe Biden, who issued an order in September.
Biden said that all private companies with more than 100 employees should impose a vaccine mandate. This mandate requires employees to get vaccinated or undergo weekly screening tests for the virus.
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In a written statement, Southwest said that Biden’s executive order supersedes any state mandate or law. In addition, Southwest said that the company is a duly accredited federal contractor. As a result, the company is bound to comply with federal law despite Abbott’s ban on vaccine mandates.
Southwest CEO Personally Supports Ban on Vaccine Mandates
On a personal note, however, Southwest CEO Gary Kelly said that he opposes vaccine mandates. He only approved one for the airline company due to the federal mandate.
“I’ve never been in favor of corporations imposing that kind of a mandate. But the executive order from President Biden mandates that all federal employees and then all federal contractors, which covers all the major airlines, have to have a (vaccine) mandate” in place by the December 8 deadline.
Meanwhile, Fort Worth-based American Airlines issued a written statement on the state’s ban on vaccine mandates.
The company said that Abbott’s executive order “does not change anything for Americans.” In addition, the company said that “We believe the federal vaccine mandate supersedes any conflicting state laws.”
Other Texas-based Companies Also Complying With Federal Vaccine Mandates
In addition to the airlines, other big companies based in Texas also said they will ignore the ban on vaccine mandates. Instead, they will still follow the federal order.
Round Rock-based Dell Technologies said that they will implement vaccine mandates starting this January. Anyone entering a Dell office will need to show proof of vaccination or undergo weekly COVID testing.
Meanwhile, Google and Facebook, which both have large workforces in Austin, already signified their intention much earlier. In July, both companies said they will require all their employees to undergo vaccination.
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Most Companies Unlikely To Follow Texas Ban On Vaccine Mandates
Amber Gunst, CEO of the Austin Technology Council, said most Texas companies are unlikely to follow the governor’s mandate. Employers do not possess the right to defy OSHA standards. Doing so will cause legal and insurance-related problems.
“When the federal government comes in with OSHA and they say, ‘this is what we need to do in order to keep employees safe,’ companies have to follow those rules in order to be in compliance with OSHA, so I don’t really feel that most companies are going to look at the mandate that the governor created and want to adhere to that,” Gunst said.
“Companies don’t have an option to choose to not be in compliance with OSHA. They will have a very strict, and steep price to pay if they’re not in compliance with OSHA,” she added.
For Some Companies, Abbott’s Order a ‘Nuisance’
As a result, Gunst said most companies will see Abbott’s order “as a nuisance that the governor has created. At this point, businesses just want to get back to business as usual. They just want to be able to function and move forward,” Gunst said.
“If anything, this just makes it difficult for Texas to continue to bring new jobs and new companies into the area by playing these games, and by trying to enforce these laws…
We need to just follow what the federal government is stating and we need to get businesses back to functioning and working in a more meaningful way,” she remarked. The rules imposed by individual states already went beyond confusing and are now frustrating. This is especially true in many companies that operate in multiple states.
Watch the CNBC Television news video featuring Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly talks about the airline’s Covid vaccine push, flight fiasco:
Do you agree with large companies that choose to comply with federal law instead of state law? Will this help reduce the incidences of COVID-19 cases, or is this just a purely political issue?
Tell us what you think about the conflicting orders on vaccine mandates. Share your comments below.