NEWPORT NEWS, Va.- Shipyard workers rallied outside Newport News Shipbuilding Friday evening to protest the COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
This comes after Huntington Ingalls Industries said all workers and contractors need to be fully vaccinated by December 8.If they don’t get vaccinated, they could lose their jobs, and that’s not sitting well with some employees.
“I’m prepared to lose my job for this,” said Shayne Giacobi, a welder for the shipyard.
Several shipyard employees say they are willing to take a stand against the mandate.
"They're saying if we’re not vaccinated by December 8 that we are no longer allowed on the property," said David England, a shipyard contractor.
When asked if he was OK with losing his job, Ingram said, "I’ll go to work somewhere else. I have options."
Newport News Shipbuilding is one of the latest companies to require the COVID-19 vaccine for employees.
"I been here for 10 years. I built the greatest ships in the world. You guys are getting me all emotional right now. I love this place; I love what I do here. And it’s just not right they are making us do this. I should have no problem finding another job, and if not, we’re going to be alright - this is my family right here behind me," Brian Nyers, a mechanic at Newport News Shipbuilding, tells News 3 reporter Leondra Head.
His wife says she agrees with his decision to not get vaccinated.
"We stand behind every choice he makes, and we feel the exact same way. We will 100% stand behind him."
A number of employees believe the vaccine should be optional.
"We’re going to risk it all because if we comply, that means that we don’t stand in freedom," said Marrana Rocha, the wife of a shipyard employee.
"We just want everyone to know it should be our choice. The mandate is just not right," Giacobi said.
To meet the deadline, employees and contractors must schedule their first vaccine shot by October 27.
Shipyard officials tell News 3 they are committed to protecting the health and safety of employees as they continue to serve the country without disruption.