Amtrak Temporarily Halts Vaccine Mandate for Employees

Amtrak locomotive (Joe Raedle / Getty)
Joe Raedle / Getty

Amtrak on Tuesday announced that the passenger railroad company with temporarily halt a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for employees after it warned of possible service reductions due to labor shortages over the rules.

Reuters reports:

In a memo seen by Reuters, Amtrak said it would allow employees who were not vaccinated to get tested.

Currently, fewer than 500 active Amtrak employees are not in compliance. Last, week the railroad told Congress it anticipated “proactively needing to temporarily reduce some train frequencies across our network” because of the mandate.

When asked during a press briefing about Amtrak’s decision, White House press secretary Jen Psaki noted that 96 percent of its employees have been vaccinated against the virus.

“That’s a pretty high number,” Psaki told reporters. “I don’t think we have any concern.”

Last week, Amtrak said it expected to temporarily cut some service in January due to labor shortages stemming from the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate which requires employees of government contractors to be fully jabbed by January 4th.

Bloomberg News reported at the time:

As Amtrak prepares to comply with the federal vaccine mandate, it will likely need to temporarily reduce frequency, particularly on its long-distance services, Stephen J. Gardner, president of Amtrak, said in written testimony for a House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee hearing. About 94% of the rail company’s workers have been fully vaccinated as of this week. […] The problem is most acute on multi-day routes, where crew bases at some intermediate points have relatively lower rates of vaccinated employees.

“Achieving full service levels, while complying with the vaccination requirement and continuing to prioritize the safety of our customers and employees, is our goal,” Gardner testified before lawmakers.

Some Republicans on Capitol Hill expressed frustration with the labor shortage concerns due to the vaccine mandate.

“Amtrak just got about $60 billion in new funding, but now President Biden’s vaccine mandates are spurring new worker shortages and service cuts, thwarting recovery from historic Amtrak losses last year,” Rep. Sam Graves (R-MO) stated. “Taxpayers will be paying more money for less service.”


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