Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) – whose subsidiaries include Newport News Shipbuilding, Ingalls Shipbuilding and HII Technical Solutions – announced the move in a Nov. 16 letter. The letter penned by HII CEO Mike Petters confirmed that employees will no longer be required to get the COVID-19 vaccine by Jan. 4, 2022.
"With respect to Ingalls Shipbuilding and Newport News Shipbuilding, our customer has confirmed that our contracts do not include a requirement to implement the [vaccine] mandate. In light of this development, we are hereby suspending the deadline for vaccination, except where specific [HII] Technical Solutions contracts require it," the letter said.
HII initially announced that all 25,000 employees would need to be fully vaccinated by Dec. 8 as a "condition of continued employment." It later moved this deadline to January next year before ultimately suspending on Nov. 16.
Despite this suspension, the shipbuilder clarified that it is still "monitoring the fluid situation closely with [its] shipyard customers." It added that the suspension of the vaccine mandate will be lifted the moment it becomes a contractual requirement, and that HII "may choose to implement other measures aimed at improving workforce vaccination rate."
"We continue to strongly urge vaccination of all employees," the shipbuilder said.
Mask mandates continued to be in place at all HII facilities. The company did not answer questions about the COVID-19 vaccine being compulsory for new hires before their first day of work. (Related: Pentagon faces class-action lawsuit over vaccine mandates on military, federal employees and contractors.)
The Nov. 16 letter by Petters also mentioned: "Implementation of the federal government's vaccine mandate has been a complex undertaking. We have not wanted to lose a single employee to the virus, or to the effect of the mandate. We also proceeded in good faith during this time to require vaccination of our workforce to protect their health and safety – and in doing so, also protect our ability to serve our national security customers without disruption."
However, a number of HII employees expressed disappointment following the letter's release. They claim that most of them feel tricked – as they got the vaccine because of the now-suspended mandate.
Deshawn Royal, an employee at the Newport News Shipyard, said: "They made me get it and then lifted it. I didn't want to get it, but they said I had to get it – or we were going to get fired. And then they lifted it. [You all] did us wrong."
Many HII employees believe the suspension of the vaccine mandate came after workers threatened to quit, which Royal thinks was the case. "You're gonna lose your people. Not everybody is [going to] get it. It's not worth a lot of people's money to get injected with something they don't want," he said. (Related: TRUE CONSPIRACY: Biden ordered OSHA to hide employer reports of COVID vaccine injuries and side effects.)
Rodney Apop, another employee, said many of his colleagues shared the same sentiment as Royal. "They went ahead and jumped, and they didn't have the choice to do it. And now when they take [the mandate] away, they wish they had known so they didn't have to," he explained.
Back in October 2021, HII employees rallied in protest of the vaccine mandate. The Oct. 15 rally saw workers gather outside Newport News Shipbuilding as the mandatory injection order did not sit well with employees. Many shared their opinion about the mandate with television station WTKR 3.
Welder Shayne Giacobi said that time that he was prepared to lose his job for not complying with the mandate, adding that he has options and can work somewhere else. "We just want everyone to know it should be our choice. The mandate is just not right," he explained.
Mechanic Brian Nyers, meanwhile, said: "I [have] been here for 10 years, I built the greatest ships in the world. I love this place [and] I love what I do here, [and] it's not just right [that] they are making us to this." He added: "I should have no problem finding another job, and if not - we're going to be alright."
Nyers' family joined him during the rally, with his wife agreeing with his decision. "We stand behind every choice he makes, and we feel the exact same way. We will 100 percent stand behind him," she said.
"We're going to risk it all because if we comply, that means we don't stand in freedom," Marrana Rocha, the wife of a shipyard employee who participated in the rally, told WTKR 3.
Resist.news has more articles about employees standing up to employers' vaccine mandates.