United Airlines Offers Pilots 13 Hours Pay For Getting Their First Immunization Shot Before July 1st

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United Airlines has reached an agreement with the Air Line Pilots Association, offering their pilots up to 13 hours of additional pay if they choose to get vaccinated and do so prior to July 1st.

Participating in this campaign is completely voluntary and pilots do not have to get vaccinated if that’s their preference (although this might almost certainly impact their roster on international routes).

We’re talking about the same United Airlines here whose CEO wanted to makes vaccines mandatory for all employees in January and in some follow up statements.

United Airlines CEO Wants To Make Vaccines Mandatory For All Employees, Other Airlines To Follow?

Now this was in January and a lot happens in regards to Covid on a monthly basis so I won’t hold anyone’s opinion from half a year ago against them but there have also been some landmark legal rulings in respect to vaccination and employment since then.

In the end United apparently decided that at least in terms of pilots who can’t as easily be replaced as ground workers it’s better to approach with a carrot than with a stick.

As the Chicago Tribune reports United offers pilots up to 13 hours of pay and no sick leave requirement for their vaccinations.

United Airlines will not require its pilots to get the COVID-19 vaccine, though it will give them an incentive to be vaccinated.

The Chicago-based airline’s CEO, Scott Kirby, said earlier this year he wanted to make the COVID-19 vaccine mandatory for United’s workforce, as long as other companies also made shots mandatory for employees.

Employers can require the COVID-19 vaccine, but employees can decline because of a disability or a sincerely held religious belief. Many companies have chosen to encourage vaccines, but keep them voluntary.

United pilots who provide proof they received the vaccine will get up to 13 hours’ added pay, the Air Line Pilots Association, which represents United’s pilots, said Monday.

The pilots’ union focused on “encouraging maximum voluntary participation in lieu of any such mandate,” Todd Insler, chairman of the United branch of the association, wrote in a message to pilots Monday.

To receive the maximum amount of additional pay, pilots must get their first dose of the vaccine by June 1 and schedule doses so they won’t need to take sick leave. Pilots will not be disciplined if they choose not to get the vaccine, but they may have their pay and schedule adjusted if being unvaccinated affects where they can fly. …

It’s difficult to say if this campaign is a good idea or not. What (if any) incentives do other employees receive to get their shots – other than Scott Kirby’s subtle reminder that they might be fired that is!?

As far as operations are concerned it’s totally understandable that an airline (and passengers) would want ideally all of it’s crew to be vaccinated as flights could very easily get cancelled and scheduled disrupted should a crew member be diagnosed with Covid-19 during the trip while the plane sits at a foreign airport.

The financial incentive we’re talking about here can be huge depending on the rank and especially the seniority of a United Airlines pilot (Captain / First Officer).

A Captain earns between $260-$352 per hour while a First Officer earns between $91 [first year, it quickly jumps after that] – $240/hour. A senior captain could very well get $4576 out of this but let’s say for the sake of not sensationalizing a realistic average value would probably be ~ $3200 across the board.

However there is another side to the coin for those who say I don’t really need the money and roll the dice. Where can a pilot expect to be able to fly in the future without being vaccinated? Domestic routes for sure but if you look at the pay tables for UA pilots “downgrading” to aircraft mostly used domestically would directly impact their pay. The most lucrative aircraft to fly (especially for Captains) is the Boeing 767-400, 777 and 787. While they do fly domestically an international route has far more financial benefits including per diems etc (please give me some rope here on the terminology and details on these things as I’m not an aviator).

How would scheduling be impacted? Could a colleague demand that he doesn’t want to fly with an unvaccinated pilot? There is plenty of variables at play but overall I feel this treatment and huge financial incentive for pilots is pretty unfair to other employees such as cabin crew and ground workers.

Delta Air Lines has already reacted as I wrote a few weeks ago, requiring all new hires to be immunized.

Delta Requires New Hires To Be Vaccinated Against Covid-19 Or They Won’t Be Employed

I bet we haven’t seen the last of this especially since countries start to open up again and without doubt will implement rules for air crew as well that the airlines have to work around.

Conclusion

United pilots could see a big payday of up to $4576 just for getting their vaccine shots taken care of based on a deal United Airlines struck with the pilots union.

In previous statements United CEO Scott Kirby wanted all employees to be vaccinated though he didn’t mentioned how he wanted to achieve this goal and this is a statement from January of this year as referenced in the article.

Other carriers such as American have offered their employees a day of leave and 50 bucks in credits to get vaccinated. Who will end up bidding the most and what’s going to happen to the last holdouts?

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