The best way to fight against the federal COVID-19 vaccine mandate is to stand together holding the line, a senior pilot told NTD.
“So the best way to push back—we’re pushing back against the federal mandate here—is for us to stand together,” Jason Kunisch, who has been a commercial airline pilot for over 20 years, said in an interview with NTD.
The senior pilot is now part of U.S. Freedom Flyers—a grassroots coalition of transportation industry employees fighting back against the federal vaccine mandate. The coalition has partnered with the Health Freedom Defense Fund and Davillier Law Group to take legal action.
“U.S. Freedom Flyers are not pro-vaccine. We’re not anti-vaccine. We’re pro-informed consent,” Kunisch said.
“If you can stand together, a lot of times they can’t replace you,” Kunisch continued. “That’s where your strength comes in.”
Kunisch explained that airlines can’t replace a mechanic, a pilot, a flight attendant, or anyone else who’s doing safety-related high-skilled jobs overnight.
“It takes years of experience to build up to that,” Kunisch said. “So what we’ve seen over this last weekend, for whatever reason, people weren’t at work.”
On the weekend of Oct. 11, Southwest Airlines canceled about 2,000 flights, prompting speculation that the cancelations were caused by the firm’s recently announced COVID-19 vaccine mandate for all employees. Southwest called the speculations “inaccurate” and “rumors.”
On Tuesday, Southwest Airlines announced it will delay its plan to place unvaccinated workers on unpaid leave.
Kunisch warned if airline companies keep pushing vaccine mandates, there might be disruptions like Southwest Airlines on a larger scale.
He said he’s not for work actions. Many airline workers can’t do such things because they are bound by the Railroad Labor Act or agreements made with the airlines.
“We can’t legally strike, we can’t have work actions, job actions. We are not promoting any of that stuff,” Kunisch said.
“Our strength comes from not stepping back, not giving into a mandate if we, on an individual level, don’t consent to that—that then prevents the company being pushed by the federal government to move into our space,” Kunisch continued.
“It’s not in any way to be disrespectful or to really push back against the company—because we are so thankful to the company,” Kunisch said. “It’s the federal mandate. That’s what we’re pushing against.”
Kunisch said not only people from the airlines come to U.S. Freedom Flyers, but people in busing, shipping, and cargo train conductors are also coming to them in large numbers daily.
“This is not about the vaccine per se. It’s about freedom, it’s about coercion, and it’s about freedom to be able to choose,” Kunisch said. “It’s about our personal choice to have a medical procedure given on our body. That’s what this is about. It’s about not being coerced into having something done to us that we wouldn’t otherwise choose.”
In September, the Biden administration announced sweeping measures targeting the federal government, the health care sector, and private businesses to enforce COVID-19 vaccine mandates.
Grace Coulter contributed to this report.