© Reuters. Boeing employees and others line the street waving signs and American flags to protest the company's vaccine mandate against coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outside the Boeing facility in Everett, Wash., October 15, 2021. REUTERS / Lindsey Wasson
Posted by Eric M. Johnson
EVERETT, Wash. (Reuters) – Around 200 Boeing (NYSE 🙂 Co employees and others protested Friday against the aircraft manufacturer's COVID-19 vaccine requirement for U.S. workers.
Boeing said Tuesday it will require its 125,000 U.S. employees to be vaccinated by December 8, under an order issued by President Joe Biden for federal contractors.
Biden and his team have struggled to beat the coronavirus pandemic as a large segment of the US population continues to oppose the use of safe and widely available vaccines.
"It's my choice and it's my body," said an avionics engineer, his voice almost drowned out by anti-biden chants and trucks showing their support along the busy street outside Boeing's Everett facility, north of Seattle .
"It's an experimental drug that is given under a pseudo-emergency," he added.
Another worker, an assembly mechanic, said, "This is America. We don't just do what we're told because someone says to."
A Boeing spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Earlier this week, Boeing said employees must either have proof of vaccination or have approved reasonable accommodation due to a disability or a genuine religious belief by Dec. 8.
Major US airlines, including American Airlines (NASDAQ 🙂 have announced that they will also meet the deadlines imposed on federal contractors, as has aircraft parts manufacturer Spirit AeroSystems (NYSE :).
"After he has issued the Executive Order, it is our responsibility to comply with that order," wrote Tom Gentile, Chief Executive Officer of Spirit, in a memo to employees and was viewed by Reuters on Friday.
Spirit called back former employees to prepare for what Gentile described as "one of the fastest increases in production rates in our industry's history".
Several Boeing employees said at the protest that they had requested exemptions. One engineer said he could take early retirement rather than fulfill the mandate. Another employee, a 20-year-old Boeing technical designer, said he would find a new job instead of taking a COVID vaccine and made false claims about the vaccine.
"The vaccine is not safe, not proven, and not effective," he said.
Boeing has said its mandate will not apply immediately to its Texas locations, where Republican Governor Greg Abbott passed an executive order on Monday that precludes COVID-19 vaccine mandates from any company, including private employers.
A Boeing mechanic – wearing a shirt that read "Practice of Socialist Distancing" – said the mandate reflected "tyrannical government and tyrannical corporations."
"I am against the mandate and the vaccine is a personal choice," he said.
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