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Sen. Cruz Calls Out United CEO For Lying About How Many Staff He's Fired As Part of Cruel Vaccine Mandate

AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

Earlier this week, several CEOs of major airline companies testified before the Senate Commerce Committee on "Oversight of the U.S. Airline Industry," where airline safety in the age of COVID was a hot topic discussed. A particularly headline grabbing exchange took place between Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Scott Kirby, CEO of United Airlines. As I highlighted last week, a particularly cruel vaccine mandate remains in place for United employees, which Kirby seems to enjoy pushing with particularly cruel glee.

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During the exchange, Sen. Cruz questioned Kirby on "how many pilots has United fired because of failure to comply with the vaccine mandate?"

The exchange went as follows, made all the more longer because Kirby was less than forthcoming. According to a transcript provided by Sen. Cruz's office:

Mr. Kirby replied:

“Well, senator, I’m happy to talk about the rationale for why we did it. We did it for safety.”

Sen. Cruz continued:

“I have limited time, so my question is, how many pilots have you fired?”

Mr. Kirby replied:

“I believe it is six out of 13,000.”

Sen. Cruz asked: 

“How many pilots have you placed on unpaid leave?”

Mr. Kirby replied:

“I think it’s about 80.”

Sen. Cruz asked:

“Okay, how many flight attendants have you fired?”

Mr. Kirby replied:

“I don’t know the number. In total, it’s about 200 employees.”

Sen. Cruz continued: 

“Well, I will tell you, I spoke this morning to the Airline Employees for Health Freedom that said they had over 2,000 United employees who had been placed on unpaid leave because they sought exemptions from the vaccine mandates, that said that included 331 pilots...

Sen. Cruz went on to admonish Kirby for his treatment of United employees, something he's said he's heard from such employees and those who have been fired:

I will also note that I have been literally inundated with United employees complaining about United’s callous disregard for the rights of the pilots. 

One of the messages was from a pilot who flew for United for more than two decades, who applied for and received an exemption from your vaccine mandate on religious grounds and was subsequently placed on leave with no pay and no benefits, including no medical insurance. Now his wife, who relies on her husband’s insurance, has had to postpone a necessary surgery with no idea when she’ll be able to reschedule because she has no idea when her husband will be able to fly again. You're simultaneously enforcing a non-compete, so this pilot can’t even go work for your competitors. Another message I received from another pilot, a constituent, self-described proud Texan, flew for the Air Force for almost three decades, including missions in Asia, now found himself on indefinite unpaid leave with a denial of all benefits to include medical, dental, vision, insurance, disability, travel privileges, crew member access to jump seats, denied access to his retirement savings. 

This morning, I spoke with a 10-year flight attendant for United, a woman name is Adrianna Uballe, who is a single mom, a Hispanic single mom from Texas, who you fired. She received her termination notice tied in a trash can to her front gate. I have a letter here from Ms. Uballe describing the disgraceful treatment she received at the hands of United. 

I ask unanimous consent this record to be entered, this letter be entered in the record...

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Later during his remarks, Sen. Cruz, who indicated he flies the airline almost every week, also shared that "almost without exception, when I’m on one of your flights, I get stopped by a pilot or a flight attendant, often multiple pilots or multiple flight attendants, who say, ‘Thank you for fighting for us.’ Your employees are being mistreated and it’s disappointing. Your company is better than this, and what you’re doing is wrong."

This has been a clear pattern of mistreatment from Kirby. 

As I mentioned in my own previous coverage, Kirby appeared on "Squawk on the Street" in late September. During the segment, as Tommy Christopher highlighted for Mediaite, Kirby claimed to "feel bad" for firing employees who did not comply with the mandate, though he appeared to be awfully cheerful despite such words.

Cruz in his remarks had also pointed out that Kirby's competitors, including the CEOs of Southwest and American Airlines and the executive vice president and chief of operations of Delta Airlines, said they would stand by their employees.

"Your competitors have said they will stand with their employees. United has not made that same commitment," Cruz pointed out, prompting Kirby's response claiming "we did it for safety."

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Other senators have expressed concerns over the religious liberties of those who are seeking religious exemptions from the vaccine, including Sens. James Lankford (R-OK) and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN).

Sherry Walker, co-founder of the organization Cruz mentions above, Airline Employees 4 Health Freedom (AE4HF), provided a statement to Townhall about the hearing.

"United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby deserved to be in the hot seat during the recent Senate Commerce Committee hearing on national airline operations. Kirby was severely criticized by Senators Cruz and [Rick] Scott for the callous mistreatment of United’s employees over an unreasonable demand for mandatory Covid vaccinations. Kirby could offer no sensible explanation as to why United is the only air carrier with a mandatory vaccination policy, nor could he explain away the shameful disregard of his worker’s legitimate concerns. Sen. Cruz called United's behavior deeply disturbing and he praised the prospects of the lawsuit against Kirby's treatment of airline workers," she said. 

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AE4HF has released a video highlighting testimonies from employees and has been circulating the hashtag of #Jabs4Jobs.


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