Sherry Walker: Pilot claims United Airlines put her on unpaid leave for refusing vaccine
A United Airlines pilot says because of her religious objections to getting vaccinated for Covid-19, she is on forced unpaid leave and unable to seek another job due to the strict vaccine mandate. The pilot Sherry Walker, 53, spoke out against vaccine mandates on Sunday, January 30 at anti-mandate rally in Washington, DC. The same rally which almost got Marvel star Evangeline Lilly canceled.
Walker, co-founder of the employee advocacy group, Airline Employees for Health Freedom said, "I am out on unpaid leave. I am prohibited from getting another job. I'm prohibited from accessing my 401(k). I have no medical benefits, and I'm leading the charge in this fight, so my days are consumed." Last year, Christopher Rake, a UCLA anti-vax doctor was escorted from work for refusing Covid vaccine. While here, United Airlines is being slammed for enforcing rules, last yea in December, Southwest CEO Gary Kelly was trolled as he got Covid a day after saying masks don't do much.
United Airlines issued a statement saying 2,000 employees were granted medical or religious accommodations during the vaccine rollout, and the workers with the exemptions had the option of continuing to work in a non-customer facing role. When DailyMail asked Walker about this, she burst into laughter and said: "I'd like to know what job they offered me." She further said, "I'm an international wide-body captain, and they wanted to offer me a job throwing bags for $12 an hour" adding that pilots who applied for internal re-assignment had been rejected due to their vaccine status.
The airline company in its statement said only those workers who refused the re-assignment were placed on unpaid leave. "We know that the best way to keep everyone as safe as we can is for everyone to get vaccinated, as nearly all United employees have chosen to do," United said in its statement. "We have identified non-customer facing roles where accommodated employees can apply and continue working until it is safe for them to their return to their current positions."
Walker further told Fox Business that she has been prohibited from finding outside work by United's non-compete contracts. United Airlines' pilot also added that she is considered an 'active employee' after being put on unpaid leave for not complying with the airline's vaccine mandate in November 2021. "That means that they can call us back with two weeks' notice at any given time, they can just grab us and pull us back."
Walker also talked about how United employees on unpaid leave were blocked from making early withdrawals from their retirement accounts, as well as from taking loans against their savings, because they had no verifiable income. She said, "So Schwab, which owns our 401(k) accounts, refuses to let anyone access them." "It's so retaliatory in all directions," she said. "Every step of the way, it's been coercive to try to force us to get that shot in the arm."
At the anti-mandate rally, Walker insisted that she was not anti-vaccine, but rather opposed to vaccine mandates and that she supported the individual right to make medical decisions. She said, "I refuse to be complicit in the use of fetal tissue, which was used in the research and development for both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, and in the deployment of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine," she wrote for the Christian Post. "This is truly a crisis of conscience that no one should ever face," she added.
Earlier this month, United CEO Scott Kirby credited the mandate for putting an end to the death of employees, after the company had averaged one employee death per week from COVID. "But we've now gone eight straight weeks with zero COVID-related deaths among our vaccinated employees - that means there are approximately 8-10 United employees who are alive today because of our vaccine requirement," Scott wrote in a memo to the staff.
However, United has faced employee backlash over the mandate, including from Walker's group, which is backing a lawsuit against the company. The suit, Sambrano v United Airlines argues: "United's actions have left the Plaintiffs with the impossible choice of either taking the COVID-19 vaccine at the expense of their religious beliefs and their health or losing their livelihoods."