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Newport News Shipbuilding COVID-19 vaccine deadline suspended for employees

Newport News Shipbuilding 1
Posted at 11:18 AM, Nov 17, 2021

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. - Most employees at Newport News Shipbuilding now do not have to get a COVID-19 vaccine any more, CEO Mike Petters said in a letter to them on Tuesday night.

The deadline to get a COVID-19 vaccine was originally set and then moved back to January 4. This applied to all HII employees, including those in the Ingalls Shipbuilding, Newport News Shipbuilding and Technical Solutions divisions.

On Tuesday night Petters said they are suspending the deadline for vaccination, except where specific Technical Solutions contracts require it.

His letter to employees read:

"Dear HII employees:

As you are aware, implementation of the federal government’s vaccine mandate has been a complex undertaking. Thank you for your patience in recent weeks as the situation has evolved. During this period, we have sought clarification from our customers about how our many contracts would need be modified and re-priced to reflect this new requirement.

We also proceeded in good faith during this time to require vaccination of our workforce, to protect their health and safety and in so doing also protect our ability to serve our national security customers without disruption. We have not wanted to lose a single employee to the virus, or to the effect of the mandate.

Importantly, with respect to Ingalls Shipbuilding and Newport News Shipbuilding, our customer has confirmed that our contracts do not include a requirement to implement the mandate. Technical Solutions employees are in a different situation and face varied requirements depending on the particular contract.

In light of this development, we are hereby suspending the deadline for vaccination, except where specific Technical Solutions contracts require it. However, please note three important points:

  • We are monitoring the fluid situation closely with our shipyard customers, and if the mandate becomes a contractual requirement, we will proceed accordingly.
  • We continue to strongly urge vaccination of all employees for the reasons described above.
  • HII may choose to implement other measures aimed at improving our workforce vaccination rate.

Thank you as always for your hard work and dedication to our customers and their critical missions."

On October 15 shipyard workers rallied outside Newport News Shipbuilding to protest the COVID-19 vaccine mandate. “I’m prepared to lose my job for this,” said Shayne Giacobi, a welder for the shipyard.

Look for more on this story Wednesday night starting on News 3 at 4 p.m.