Earlier today I wrote about United’s expanded mask mandate, which now requires passengers as young as two to wear masks not just onboard aircraft, but in the airport. United is also warning employees that they too must respect United’s strict new mask requirements.
Warning: United Employees Who Do Not Wear Masks Face Termination
Kate Gebo, United’s Executive Vice President of Human Resources and Labor Relations, issued a stern warning in a note to employees concerning the mandatory mask policy:
“If an employee violates this policy, they are subject to discipline up to and including termination.”
The memo reveals that “not everyone is wearing a mask when they should be.” It also stresses why it is important, even for those who may have doubts:
“If you believe that the risks from the pandemic are minimal to you, know this: even if you experience a mild case of COVID-19, you can pass it along to someone else for whom the disease will turn out to be severe or fatal.”
Just as it does for customers, United will make exceptions for those medically unable to wear a mask (though a formal process is required). But it warns employees that unions are onboard with the mandatory mask requirement, noting the common goal of protecting employees and customers.
“If an employee is medically unable to wear a mask, they can participate in our Reasonable Accommodation Process to determine whether we can provide a reasonable accommodation. But if you are not exempt and you do not wear a mask, the policy is very straightforward. Our partners in each of our labor unions support this effort, as well, because it protects all of us.”
As it turns out, unions are not onboard. The Association of Flight Attendants plans to file a grievance against any unilateral action that would shortcut the contractual-based removal process.
The best leaders lead by example. United could not afford the “do as I say, not as I do” approach any longer and has warned employees they must also follow mask protocol. Although firing an employee for not wearing a masks seems harsh, the threat underscores how seriously United is taking its mask mandate.
If you are considering signing up for a new credit card please click here and help support LiveAndLetsFly.com.
image: United Airlines
I don’t know what they mean by “The unions are on board with this. The union will have to fight for any dues-paying member who loses his/her job so they cannot be “Onboard with this”. They might have been told about United’s intentions though.
The union is onboard with an obligatory mask requirement. In other words, not like the usual cutbacks were management and unions are opposed. Here, United + unions are in agreement, if a union must still fight for a member who is fired on account of refusing to wear PPE.
The union said the policy as written is too harsh and is filing a grievance. This is not mentioned in your article or comment.
That is quite interesting…the memo forwarded to me (from United) said the union was onboard. I’ll be doing a separate story on the union response, but have updated this post. Thank you A and Marquis.
Thank you for updating so quickly.
Southwest has announced they will not be transporting anyone without a mask, even if they have an exception.
Also, more union info:
This should include pilots in the cockpit. The pilots are inches apart and my husband is one of the few to wear a mask while flying. The other pilot always says they are always careful…EXCEPT when they are sitting next to the other pilot and constantly talking to each other in a very small space. It’s dangerous and arrogant. I have cancer, and I need United to make it mandatory for EVERY employee to wear their mask!
The pilots are not required to wear a mask while flight attendant in flight deck during pilot lavatory breaks. I see droplets coming from pilots while they are speaking in a small flight deck. So the mask wearing is for public perception and not health and safety of employees
@Saundra. Us pilots can’t talk to air traffic control properly through our masks. Communication could possibly be garbled and could be a safety issue is there is any misunderstandings. Or imagine how many times ATC would have to ask us again what we just said? We don’t wear masks in the cockpit when flying. Any flight attendant who’s up front during that pilot’s lav break should be wearing a mask. It’s not an airline thing…. the FAA has said “it not recommended that pilots wear masks while flying.”
This will end well.
I think that they are using any excuse to get rid off as many employees as they can they just sent out 16,000 layoff letters and then the next day a new mask policy threatening employees with termination. I understand that everyone should be wearing masks but to threaten someones livelihood espically in these trying times they need to quit threatening and be respectful and know that there are alot of people about to lose their jobs do not make them angrier.
I am sick of this mask hysteria
It is not hysteria. It is important from a medical perspective to stop the spread of the virus. This is not political. Even if people have mild disease, they can spread it to more susceptible people who can wind up intubated and on a propofol drip for weeks and then dead. Basically you don’t want to have to visit the ICU and you don’t want the people you love to have to visit the ICU. It is not fun. And you might not leave.
Really, this is not carried out by the staff. I have pictures of pilots speaking on the phone with their masks under their chin. Stewardesses repeatedly walking by people with masks not covering their noses. The terminals neither respect nor enforce distance or mask rules despite what is said on the loudspeaker. Until enforced, people risk infection when flying.