American Airlines and Southwest Airlines, citing federal requirements, said Tuesday they would not comply with a Texas governor’s order barring private employers from introducing mandatory coronavirus vaccines in the state.
Governor Greg Abbott, a staunch opponent of vaccination requirements, issued an order on Monday stating that Covid-19 vaccinations should “always be voluntary for Texans.”
“We believe the federal vaccination mandate overrides any conflicting state laws, and that doesn’t change anything for Americans,” said a spokeswoman for the Fort Worth-based airline. Dallas-based Southwest said it would “fit” the federal mandate.
The Greater Houston Partnership, a business group of which Exxon Mobil, Chevron and JPMorgan Chase are members, also spoke out Tuesday against Mr. Abbott’s order, saying it “does not support the ability and responsibility of Texas businesses to create safe jobs.”
President Biden announced last month that federal contractors and their employees must be vaccinated, with a few exceptions. Like other major employers, American and Southwest cited this requirement and their contractor status, announcing that employees must be vaccinated.
Mr Biden also announced that workers in companies with more than 100 employees will have to be vaccinated or tested on a regular basis, but these requirements are dependent on new regulations that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has yet to issue. According to the administration, this demand will affect tens of millions of workers. Healthcare workers at facilities receiving Medicaid and Medicare funding must also be vaccinated.
Jen Psaki, a White House spokesman, accused Mr. Abbott on Tuesday of “putting politics above public health,” and said federal laws supersede state and local laws.
The administration will continue to deliver on the extensive mandates announced last month, she said, adding that business leaders that have already introduced mandates have reported positive results.
“Apart from the legal aspect, which, in our opinion, is undeniable, any business leader asks the question: what do you want to do to save more lives in your companies?” said Ms. Psaki.
In Florida, another state with a governor that has fought vaccination demands, the Department of Health has filed a violation notice to Leon County, which includes Tallahassee, for violating the state’s “vaccine passport” ban.
The ministry said Tuesday that it fined the county nearly $ 3.6 million for requiring 700 government employees to grant their vaccine status and fired 14 who refused to comply. Gov. Ron DeSantis said he wanted to “preserve the ability of Florida residents to make their own decisions about which pictures to take.”