Bloomberg Law
Free Newsletter Sign Up
Bloomberg Law
Welcome
Go
Free Newsletter Sign Up

Amtrak Reverses Plan to Cut Service, Changes Vaccine Mandate

Dec. 14, 2021, 9:11 PM

Amtrak says it won’t reduce service on long-distance routes in 2022, which it previously planned due to an expected shortage of workers when its vaccine mandate takes effect.

Amtrak is temporarily reverting to its original policy that will allow for testing as an alternative to vaccination, the company’s CEO, Bill Flynn, told employees in a memo Tuesday. The change follows a federal district court pausing enforcement of the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate for contractors.

“This caused the company to reevaluate our policy and to address the uncertainty about the federal requirements that apply to Amtrak,” Flynn said in the memo, adding that the company will offer testing.

The company warned lawmakers last week that it wouldn’t have enough employees to operate all its trains next month when it planned to enforce Covid-19 vaccine requirements. Employers across industries have warned vaccine mandates will exacerbate worker shortages they’re already facing.

Amtrak to Cut Service as Workforce Shrinks on Shot Refusals

Fewer than 500 active Amtrak employees are out of compliance with the company’s mandate, according to the memo. About 95.7% of Amtrak’s employees are fully vaccinated or have an accommodation, the company said.

Employees who need to submit to testing and don’t will be put on unpaid leave and could be fired, the memo said.

Republicans pushed back on Amtrak’s expected service cuts last week.

“The administration is preparing to spend nearly $60 billion in new funding for Amtrak and passenger rail, but its own unworkable policies and egregious mandates would have delivered less service for the taxpayers footing the bill--not more,” Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.) said in a statement Tuesday, referring to the money in the recently enacted infrastructure law (Public Law 117-58).

To contact the reporter on this story:
Lillianna Byington in Washington at lbyington4@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story:
Sarah Babbage at sbabbage2@bloomberg.net

Robin Meszoly

© 2021 Bloomberg L.P. All rights reserved. Used with permission.