Boeing has suspended its COVID-19 vaccine requirement for U.S. employees, becoming the latest company to drop the rule amid pushback from some employees and in response to a court decision blocking federal mandates.
The planemaker said in an Dec. 17 internal memo obtained by media outlets that its decision was spurred in part by a court decision blocking President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate for federal contractors.
“This decision comes after a detailed review of a U.S. District Court ruling earlier this month that halts the enforcement of a federal executive order requiring vaccinations for federal contractors, a recent Executive Branch directive not to enforce the order on those contractors, and a number of state laws which limit an employer’s ability to impose mandatory vaccine requirements,” the company said in an emailed statement cited by Defense One.
Boeing added that about 92 percent of its more than 110,000 U.S. employees are fully vaccinated or had received exemptions from the mandate, which was originally imposed in October in response to Biden’s executive order that required all employees of federal contractors to get the shot.
“The success of Boeing’s vaccination requirement to date positions the company well to comply with the federal executive order should it be reinstated in the future,” Boeing said in the statement, according to Reuters.
Boeing officials didn’t respond to a request from The Epoch Times for comment by press time.
The company’s initial decision to impose the requirement was met with stiff opposition from some employees, with the Seattle Times reporting on a several-hundred-strong protest in Everett, Washington, in mid-October.
“If I want the vaccination, it’s my choice. It shouldn’t have to be forced,” one of the protesters, Boeing aircraft structures mechanic Mike Smith, told the Seattle Times in an interview at the time. “What the government’s doing is making the corporations go out and do their dirty work. You’re mandated to lose your job, and that’s not right.
“I’m out here supporting freedom,” Smith said. “It’s my body, my choice.”
A federal court on Dec. 7 halted enforcement of the federal contractor vaccine requirement nationwide, expanding a Nov. 30 ruling that blocked it in just three states. The mandate was to take effect on Jan. 4, 2022.
With the move, Boeing joins a growing list of companies that have opted to rescind their COVID-19 vaccine requirements.
Amtrak last week revoked its vaccine requirement amid concerns about staff shortages and cut service in January. In a memo sent to staff and obtained by The Epoch Times, Amtrak CEO William Flynn said the company would do away with the mandate that would have given employees until Jan. 4 to get fully vaccinated or go on unpaid leave.
Several hospitals and health care systems have also set aside vaccine mandates for employees, citing labor issues sparked by the new requirements.
Florida’s AdventHealth announced earlier in December that it was ending its vaccine requirement for some 83,000 workers, also citing court injunctions against federal mandates.
Tenet Healthcare, HCA Healthcare, and Cleveland Clinic also recently announced they’re canceling the mandates, citing labor concerns.
Jack Phillips contributed to this report.