In an ongoing exclusive series about the lawsuit against United Airlines over their covid vaccination policy, American Conversations and Global Conversations - IN PLAIN SIGHT - host Christine Dolan interviews Sylvia Fitch-McConnell and Tom Floyd.
Fitch-McConnell, a 32 year UAL ground crew employee applied for a medical exemption, which initially went unanswered. In the end, she was terminated.
UAL CEO Scott Kirby has called employees like Fitch-McConnell’s “the face of United.”
“I have never been fired. It was embarrassing,” said Fitch-McConnell. “I felt ashamed and embarrassed.” She lives in a small Hawaiian community.
At the beginning of the August 2021 UAL mandated covid policy, Fitch-McConnell was ill. Her doctor cleared her to return to work, but then UAL told her she was required to get a covid vaccination.
Fitch-McConnell then contacted her IAM union representative to appeal, which went unanswered.
She contacted the EEOC in June 2022. The next communication she received was a termination letter by Fed Ex.
Now, since filing the lawsuit, Fitch-McConnell feels a lot of support from co-workers.
Tom Floyd spent 21 years as a pilot at UAL after serving in the US military.
You can watch his earlier interview here.
What happened to United’s leadership?
Employees expected stability especially because of their unions. They make family sacrifices because of the nature of the business
“To have the company yank the rung from under us is devastating,” says Floyd.
“I got the shot but it was the worse decision I have made,” Floyd said UAL employees have told the plaintiffs. “I did not want to lose my job,” was one of the reactions.
“Terrific threats were made like you were not going to be able to feed their families or afford their homes,” says Floyd. “As time went by, it seems to me that our company intentionally inflicted pain…and in an attempt to coerce us to go along with UAL covid vaccination policy.”
It is “betrayal,” said Fitch-McConnell. “Losing your medical insurance in the middle of pandemic” made no sense to her.
Fitch-McConnell lost her medical insurance even before she was officially terminated.
Floyd wrote to UAL that he did not agree with the “unpaid leave policy” after his religious exemption was accepted.
“Does United have the shoulders to bear the weight of their covid policy” asked Floyd in a letter.
“It is unAmerican” and like “sci-fi,” said Fitch-McConnell.
“Religion is a valid reason to not participate in a medical experiment,” said Floyd.
The tactics taken by UAL were “to increase the threshold of pain,” added Floyd.