United Air Unit Follows Carrier’s Vaccine Mandate

A United Airlines Holdings Inc. subsidiary has mandated coronavirus vaccines for employees, joining its parent company and a growing number of U.S. corporations that are making them obligatory. 

United Ground Express (UGE), a wholly owned subsidiary of Chicago-based United that assists in airport operations, said in a memo to workers that management “has determined the best way to protect all of you and our traveling customers moving forward is to now mandate the Covid-19 vaccine.” UGE has seen an increase in employees who test positive for the virus, according to the Sept. 2 memo.

The announcement follows a similar move by United in early August that didn’t cover employees at the subsidiary, which handles tasks such as wheelchair assistance and security-line management at more than five dozen airports for United and several other carriers, including Southwest Airlines Co. and JetBlue Airways Corp.

“While it’s a subsidiary of United, UGE makes its own decisions based on its own business needs, including the timing of its vaccine requirement,” United Airlines spokeswoman Leslie Scott said Tuesday in an email.

United employees have until Sept. 27 to offer proof of vaccination or face termination. UGE management employees have until Nov. 15 to get vaccinated, while the rest of the staff have until Dec. 1. The company’s Ground Express unit is offering eight hours of pay for employees who submit their proof by Nov. 15.

Both United and UGE are offering medical and religious exemptions for employees who meet their requirements.

The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers District 141, which represents a variety of United Airlines employees, criticized the airline in an Aug. 25 memo for not including UGE in its vaccine mandate. The IAM opposes United’s decision to mandate a vaccine for continued employment but said the company is within its legal rights to do so.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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