NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — The Jan. 4 COVID-19 vaccination deadline has been suspended for many workers at Newport News Shipbuilding.
According to a letter sent to employees Tuesday by Huntington Ingalls Industries President and CEO Mike Petters, said the customer has confirmed contracts at Ingalls Shipbuilding and Newport News Shipbuilding “do not include a requirement to implement the mandate.”
The shipyard previously announced that all of its roughly 25,000 workers will need to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Dec. 8 as a “condition of continued employment.” That deadline was extended until Jan. 4 per an allowance from the federal government.
Petters said this means the Jan. 4 vaccination deadline is suspended except for certain Technical Solutions employees. Technical Solutions employees are in a “different situation and face varied requirements depending on the particular contract.”
Petters called the process to implement the federal vaccine mandate a “complex undertaking” and thanked employees for their patience.
He added that Huntington Ingalls Industries sought clarification from contract customers to see how many contracts would need to be modified or re-priced to reflect the new federal vaccine requirement.
Petters said Huntington Ingalls was still monitoring the “fluid situation.” If the mandate becomes required by contract, the company will move forward accordingly.
Huntington Ingalls still urges all employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
In addition, the company may take other measures aimed at improving the workforce vaccination rate.
We reached out to company officials, they denied our request for an interview on this topic.
About 25,000 people work at Newport News Shipbuilding.
As of last week, President Jennifer Boykin said in a Facebook post that 80% of their workforce had at least one shot of the vaccine. That meant 20% of the workforce were at risk of losing their jobs over the mandate.
Union officials say the initial reaction is a relief for the employees they’ve spoken to. So far, they say no one has expressed concern over working with unvaccinated coworkers but it’s still early and people are adjusting to the news so they expect some discontent will arise.