Fact Check: United Airlines Did NOT Lose 40% of Staff Because of Vaccine Requirements

Fact Check

  • by: Marlo Lee
Fact Check: United Airlines Did NOT Lose 40% of Staff Because of Vaccine Requirements Data Wrong

Did United Airlines lose 40% of its employees because of the vaccine requirement the airline put in place? No, that's not true: A United Airlines spokesperson told Lead Stories that 99.5% of United Airlines employees have chosen to get vaccinated. However, less than 240 employees are in the process of being "separated from the company." That is approximately 0.36% of United Airline employees leaving the company because of the vaccine requirements.

The claim originated from a tweet posted by user JackPosobiec on October 8, 2021 (archived here). Posobiec is a conservative figurehead and commenter for One America News Network. Posobiec's tweet read:

"He really is this stupid"

This is what the post looked like on Twitter at the time of writing:

Twitter screenshot

(Source: Twitter screenshot taken on Mon Oct 11 19:27:08 2021 UTC)

The tweet has two screenshots. Here are both of the graphics shown in Posobiec's tweet:

Screen Shot 2021-10-12 at 12.06.50 PM.png

(Source: Twitter screenshot taken on Tue Oct 12 4:09:18 2021 UTC)

Screen Shot 2021-10-12 at 12.07.47 PM.png

(Source: Twitter screenshot taken on Tue Oct 12 4:10:45 2021 UTC)

The graph, shown in Posobiec's tweet and watermarked by @GrandOldMemes, leads the reader to assume that the leap from 59% to 99% is because 40% of United Airlines employees would rather quit their job than take a COVID-19 vaccine. The graph is presented without sourcing and without numeric sale on the "y" axis. The user GrandOldMemes is a Twitter account dedicated to making political memes.

A United Airlines spokesperson told Lead Stories in an October 11, 2021, email that the graph-based claim is not based on the real numbers, writing:

No, 99.5 percent of United's U.S. employees have now chosen to get vaccinated, excluding those who sought an exemption. As of now fewer than 240 employees are in the process of being separated from the company.

The United Airlines spokesperson also wrote in an October 12, 2021, that United has approximately 67,000 U.S.-based employees, and is only smaller now than it was in 2019 because of the pandemic-related economic slowdown, not the vaccine mandate. The 240 separated employees divided by the current U.S.-based 67,000 employees is approximately 0.36%.

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Lead Stories is working with the CoronaVirusFacts/DatosCoronaVirus Alliance, a coalition of more than 100 fact-checkers who are fighting misinformation related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more about the alliance here.

Marlo Lee is a fact checker at Lead Stories. She is a graduate of Howard University with a B.S. in Biology. Her interest in fact checking started in college, when she realized how important it became in American politics. She lives in Maryland.

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