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(Video Credit: CNN)
Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) tore into United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby for threatening his employees over the vaccine mandate, telling them very few religious exemptions would be granted and that they should be aware that their jobs were on the line.
“United CEO Scott Kirby told his employees that ‘very few people’ who requested a religious exemption to their vaccine mandate would be granted one, said his employees would be ‘putting their job on the line,’ & said employees should ‘be very careful about that.’ Disturbing,” Cruz tweeted.
Then, during a Senate Commerce Committee hearing, Cruz confronted Kirby over the airline’s vaccine mandate, pointing out its competitors such as Delta and Southwest Airlines are not implementing one.
“Mr. Kirby, United’s behavior on this issue, I have to say, has been deeply disturbing,” Cruz remarked during the hearing.
United CEO Scott Kirby told his employees that “very few people” who requested a religious exemption to their vaccine mandate would be granted one, said his employees would be “putting their job on the line,” & said employees should “be very careful about that.”
— Senator Ted Cruz (@SenTedCruz) December 15, 2021
“I’m a frequent customer of United. I live in Houston. I have over a million miles on United. There are over 14,000 United employees in the state of Texas. And the way United has treated its employees is in marked contrast to your competitors sitting here. Your competitors have said they will stand with their employees. United has not made that same commitment,” Cruz noted.
“How many pilots has United fired because of their failure to comply with the vaccine mandate?” Cruz asked.
Kirby replied that they did it for safety.
“I have limited time so my question is how many pilots have you fired?” Cruz repeated.
“I believe it is six,” Kirby responded.
“And how many pilots have you placed on unpaid leave?” the senator continued.
“I think it’s about 80,” Kirby replied.
“Okay. How many flight attendants have you fired,” Cruz grilled the CEO.
“I don’t know the number. Total is about 240,” Kirby answered.
“Well, I will tell you I spoke this morning to the Airline Employees for Health Freedom that said they had over 2,000 United employees who had been placed on unpaid leave because they sought exemptions from the vaccine mandate. They said that included 331 pilots,” Cruz informed Kirby.
“I will also note that I have been literally inundated with United employees complaining about United’s callous disregard for the rights of the pilots. One of the messages was from a pilot that flew for United for more than two decades. He applied for and received an exemption from your vaccine mandate on religious grounds and he was subsequently placed on leave with no pay and no benefits, including no medical insurance,” he commented.
“Now, his wife, who relies on her husband’s insurance, has had to postpone a necessary surgery with no idea of when she’ll be able to reschedule because she has no idea when her husband will be able to fly again and you’re simultaneously enforcing a non-compete so this pilot can’t even go work for your competitors,” Cruz angrily recounted.
“Another message I received from another pilot, a constituent, self-described proud Texan… flew for the Air Force for almost three decades including missions in Asia, now finds himself on indefinite, unpaid leave with a denial of all benefits to include medical, dental, and vision insurance, disability, travel privileges, crew member access to jump seats… denied access to his retirement savings,” the senator continued.
“This morning I spoke with a 10-year flight attendant for United. A woman named Adrianna Ubole, who is a single mom, a Hispanic single mom who is from Texas who you fired. She received her termination notice tied to a trashcan at her front gate,” Cruz continued.
The senator went on to point out that employees are suing United over their mistreatment. He commented on a judge’s opinion that the employees definitely have a case. The judge called United’s approach “calloused” towards people of faith.
United Airlines sued by employees over ‘draconian’ vaccine policy https://t.co/Ug45plbXEE pic.twitter.com/Yr0b3KhXfp
— Conservative News (@BIZPACReview) September 23, 2021
Kirby smugly claimed the airline’s actions were, again, for safety and to save people’s lives. He has previously appeared less than upset by the whole matter and actually appeared to be smirking during the hearing.
Cruz concluded by telling Kirby that his actions were disappointing and his company “is better than this.”
People had plenty to say about United online:
No wonder @United sucks so hard
— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) December 16, 2021
There will be very few of us on your flights from now on.
— sandra paulley ✝️ 🇺🇸 (@slphouston) December 16, 2021
Scott Kirby looks like an arrogant, pompous ass
— Ben (@bendur6) December 16, 2021
Let’s place United ceo Scott Kirby on “indefinite unpaid leave with loss of ALL benefits” ….of course he will be just fine as he’ll have his millions & golden parachute. I hope the United employees win a huge amount in their lawsuit!
— Sarah Parkerson (@SarahParkerso10) December 16, 2021
What a huge POS!
— CS RENO 🇺🇸✝️🎄🎅 (@CinSmith1) December 16, 2021
Threats are always a great way to motivate employees!
— Stephen Newland (@SNewland) December 16, 2021
Sounds like United airlines may suffer “weather problems” soon like Delta and Southwest airlines did a month ago.
— Junson Chan 🇺🇸 (@realjunsonchan) December 16, 2021
“Very few people who requested religious accommodation would get one.” Queue up the plaintiffs’ lawyers. Sounds like planned blanket denials of accommodations. Hope 100s of law settlements are worth it Scott
— Murphy’sLaw (@murphlaw24) December 16, 2021
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