‘Freedom over force’: Hundreds gather to protest American Airlines vaccine mandate

American workers from various industries have increasingly protested COVID-19 vaccine mandates in recent months.

This week, reports indicate a large group of American Airlines employees gathered to demonstrate against that company’s vaccine requirements. 

“Passengers are next”

As Fox Business reported, hundreds of current and former employees participated in the protest outside of the company’s headquarters in Fort Worth, Texas, on Friday.

Many demonstrators could be seen holding anti-mandate signs as chants could be heard throughout the crowd. “Freedom over force,” some participants shouted.

One of the protest’s organizers explained that the event was not motivated solely by the impact of the mandate on employees, but also in an effort to prevent similar requirements from being imposed on the airline’s passengers.

“We are leading the way in this fight because it doesn’t end with us,” the individual said. “Passengers are next.”

Of course, American Airlines is just one of several companies in the industry — including United, Southwest, JetBlue, and others — that have decided to go along with President Joe Biden’s recommendation that all employees receive a COVID-19 vaccine. For its part, American has given its workers until Nov. 24 to be fully vaccinated or face possible termination.

“Now you’re requiring me to take it”

Friday’s demonstration was at least the second such protest by the airline’s employees since the mandate was announced on Oct. 7. Additionally, some employees have pursued lawsuits against the company.

As a result of the mounting backlash, some airlines have opted to back off their vaccine mandates. Some have indicated that they would strive to allow for accommodations for those who are not vaccinated by the deadline.

Southwest, on the other hand, made news this week when it affirmed that it would not be firing employees who do not receive the vaccine. That revelation came after the airline experienced massive delays and cancellations affecting travelers around the world earlier this month.

Even as airlines deal with possible staffing shortages as unvaccinated employees are fired or quit their jobs, they face another serious problem as travelers threaten to boycott companies that force vaccinations on their workers.

A day before the American Airlines protest, dozens of General Electric employees gathered to demonstrate outside of a corporate location in South Carolina, including longtime employee Shannon Harrill, who declared: “We worked as an essential employee through the entire COVID pandemic. We were required to be here and lose our job. Now you’re requiring me to take it to stay here.”

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