Crain’s: Boeing vaccine backlash builds as 11,000 workers seek exemption

From Crain’s Chicago Business Breaking News

(Bloomberg) — About 11,000 Boeing Co. employees have asked to be exempted from Covid-19 vaccines the planemaker has mandated, according to a person briefed on the matter, a sign of backlash among some rank-and-file workers to the Biden administration’s rules for government contractors.

Nearly 9% of the company’s U.S. workforce are balking at the policy, stirring up strife at a time when Boeing is working to turnaround its finances, resolve quality lapses and starting to lay the groundwork for contract talks with its largest union. Reuters reported the extent of the pushback to the policy earlier.

The tough stance on Covid shots adopted by United Airlines Holdings Inc. survived an initial legal challenge Monday. A federal district judge in Texas rejected a bid by some United workers to prevent the carrier from placing them on unpaid leave for refusing Covid vaccines.

IAM, which represents about 24,000 Seattle-area machinists, has been pushing Boeing to adopt a more flexible standard set by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, a U.S. agency. It allows for employees to submit to regular testing in place as an alternative to getting jabbed.

The union also said in a Nov. 5 web post that it would support members with a religious conviction against the vaccines.

Such beliefs are “not required to be lifelong, in-line with an organization you belong to, it can be uncommon and newly held,” the article said. “If you submit your opinion that this mandate is unconstitutional, not legal or a violation of your civil rights then your request will most likely be denied as it would not be a sincerely held religious belief.”

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