Boeing tells workers they must get COVID-19 vaccine

SEATTLE (AP) — The Boeing Co. has told employees they must be vaccinated against COVID-19 or possibly be fired.

The Seattle Times reports the deadline for workers at the aerospace giant is Dec. 8.

“Compliance with these requirements is a condition of employment,” states a Boeing internal presentation from Tuesday viewed by the newspaper. “Employees who are unable to meet these requirements … may be released from the company.”

Employees can request exemptions “due to a disability or sincerely held religious belief.” Any employee granted such an exemption will have to “undergo frequent testing for COVID-19” and be ready to “present a negative test result upon request.”

The policy will apply to roughly 125,000 U.S.-based employees company-wide, with about 57,000 of those in Washington state.

Jon Holden, president of International Association of Machinists (IAM) District 751, in his message to members in the October issue of the union paper, wrote that “the reality is our members are polarized on this issue.”

“It is our responsibility to defend and advocate for all our members,” Holden added. And though he noted that he and his family are vaccinated, the union must also defend “those who can’t or won’t accept the vaccine.”

The white-collar union, the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace (SPEEA), said in a statement Tuesday it is engaging with Boeing “to ensure implementation gives proper consideration to members’ concerns.”

Boeing may face more resistance to the new policy in Republican-controlled states.

On Monday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order barring private companies or any other entity from requiring vaccines.

Boeing has more than 5,000 employees in Texas. It has about 32,000 more at facilities in Alabama, Arizona, Missouri, Oklahoma and South Carolina.

FILE – In this April 26, 2021, file photo Boeing 737 Max airplanes sit parked in a storage lot, near Boeing Field in Seattle. The Boeing Co. told employees, Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2021, that they must be vaccinated against COVID-19 or possibly be fired. The Seattle Times reports the deadline for workers at the aerospace giant is Dec. 8. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)

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