Thousands gathered on Sunday in Downtown Los Angeles to protest and listen to speakers at a “Defeat the Mandates” rally.
United Airlines pilot Sherry Waker was one of the featured speakers. She said that she was forced to go on unpaid leave and was cut off from her 401(k) benefits because she refused to take the experimental COVID-19 vaccine.
Walker was one of the lead plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit involving over 2,000 United Airlines employees challenging the company’s vaccine mandate. They argued that the airline was discriminating and retaliating against unvaccinated workers, causing them lost wages and other damages.
The plaintiffs have obtained a favorable preliminary ruling, but the fight in court is far from over. Walker did say that they have been able to help get many employees back to work. She added that the plaintiffs believe the Federal Aviation Administration has a duty to protect America’s airspace infrastructure.
She added that across all major carriers, the vaccine injured are becoming this year’s heroes. United released a memo last month indicating that more than 2,000 workers will be able to return to normal duties with an approved “request for reasonable accommodation.”
The rally carried on all day with speakers from multiple industries, including law enforcement officers, medical professionals, actors, journalists, and students all calling for a universal right to return to normal work or studies.
Over-the-road trucks and trailers that participated in the American “People’s Convoy” were parked near the rally location in support.
Like much of the country, California experienced a COVID surge from last year’s omicron variant. Since the winter months have ended, case numbers in the state have plummeted. Although state and local governments have relaxed many of the harshest COVID mandates, the California Assembly is still considering enacting even more new COVID-related laws.
One proposed bill would allow minor children to receive vaccines without parental consent or knowledge. Another proposal would require all public and private employees and contractors to be “fully” vaccinated as a condition of employment.
L.A. County and City employees already are under a vaccine mandate unless they have been granted a medical or religious exemption.
As of last month, only about two dozen L.A. public employees have been fired for refusing the vaccine. The city has largely been successful in defending against lawsuits challenging its public employee mandate.