Anti-vax GOP lawmakers are now encouraging people not to work

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They are urging airline employees to skip their jobs to protest COVID-19 safety rules.

Congressional Republicans are urging airline workers to skip their jobs to protest COVID-19 safety requirements. This comes after months of GOP demands that people get back to work despite the pandemic.

Amid unconfirmed right-wing media claims that weekend travel delays on Southwest Airlines had been fueled by anti-vaccination workers refusing to show up, GOP lawmakers amplified the rumors and wholeheartedly endorsed the idea of a work stoppage.

"I stand with #Southwest Airlines employees who are fighting against these mandates," tweeted Rep. Andy Biggs of Arizona on Monday. "This isn't about a vaccine, this is about freedom."

"The heroes are standing up! #SouthwestEmployees #LetsGoBrandon," wrote Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert. (The "Brandon" hashtag is a reference to a right-wing meme insulting President Joe Biden.)

Texas Rep. Chip Roy acknowledged that he did not know if the story was even true, but said that he wanted it to be. "I don't know if even a single @SouthwestAir pilot or other employee - or air traffic control - are rebelling.  But I hope so.  And I want them to know they have support."

So far, it does not appear that the story is true. Southwest Airlines, which announced on Oct. 4 that its staff must get vaccinated against COVID-19 by Dec. 8 to comply with federal rules, canceled about 2,000 flights over the weekend, citing weather and air traffic control issues.

Asked Tuesday whether anti-vaccine workers refusing to show up played a role in the flight cancellations, Southwest CEO Gary Kelly told ABC News, "There's just no evidence of that."

But despite the lack of evidence, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz tweeted a photo of a Gadsden flag hanging out of a Southwest plane cockpit as proof that the news reports debunking the claims must be wrong. "Not possible," he mocked. "The corrupt corporate media told me this doesn't exist. #SouthwestEmployees #ThanksJoe."

Many of the same Republican lawmakers now celebrating the idea of workers refusing to show up to protest COVID-19 safety rules were among the loudest voices demanding that teachers return to in-person instruction as the pandemic raged and attacking teachers for demanding precautions.

"Teacher unions are holding children's futures hostage in order to bankrupt American taxpayers," Biggs alleged in February.

"Open schools. Open businesses. Reopen America NOW!" demanded Boebert in May.

They also fought to end emergency federal unemployment benefits for those out of work during the pandemic, falsely claiming they were incentivizing people to stay home.

"Biden's solution," Biggs wrote in May, "Raise taxes & incentivize unemployment."

"The problem is that's not a good choice for that individual or for the country. We don't wanna be incentivizing people not to work," Cruz said in August. "Our objective should be get people back to work as quickly as possible. Get them back on their feet."

But now they are actively cheering on people not working — and celebrating the chaos it would bring.
On Sunday night, Roy shared a photo of airport passengers stuck due to Southwest flight cancellations. "This makes me happier than I can possibly articulate," he wrote. "Eat it, @SouthwestAir."
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.