(Reuters) – In Wichita, Kansas, nearly half of the approximately 10,000 employees of the airlines Textron Inc. and Spirit AeroSystems Inc. remain unvaccinated against covid-19, risking their jobs despite a federal mandate, according to a
"We will lose many employees because of this," said Cornell Adams, head of the local machinists' union. Many workers did not oppose the vaccines as such, he said, but were strongly opposed to what they see as government interference in personal health decisions.
The union district has hired a Texas-based lawyer to help employees and prepare potential lawsuits.
Adams was a lifelong Democrat, saying he would no longer vote for the party. "They will never get another vote from me and I say the same thing to the workers here." are fully vaccinated against covid-1
This means that federal contract workers must have received their last covid-19 syringe at least two weeks before the deadline to receive maximum protection, according to US government guidance.
At three-week intervals between shots of the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine, workers must receive the first shot no later than Wednesday. If the government sticks to its deadline, it is already too late to choose Moderna's vaccine, which is given in two doses at four-week intervals. Workers could choose to obtain Johnson & Johnson's one-time vaccine until November 24 to meet the deadline.
The mandate has sparked protests from workers in industries across the country, as well as from Republican government officials.
Opposition to the mandate could potentially lead to thousands of American workers losing their jobs and jeopardize an already sluggish economic recovery, said union leaders, workers and business leaders.
More legal clashes are likely over how companies decide on vaccination exemption requests. For companies, time is running out, although the Biden administration has signaled that federal contractors will not immediately have to lay off unvaccinated workers who miss the December 8 deadline.
According to government guidelines published on Monday, companies will have flexibility on how to carry out the mandate, which may enable them to avoid mass shootings.
"A contractor covered by this should determine the appropriate means of enforcement. its employee ", it was stated in the guide.
For Boeing Co. In the United States, more than 7,000 workers have applied for religious exemptions and about 1,000 are seeking medical exemptions, people familiar with the matter told Reuters. That equates to about 6% of the planner's approximately 125,000 employees in the United States. Auburn, the three dozen workers gathered in torrential rain, said they would rather be escorted from Boeing's property on December 8 than take a vaccine. Others said they would continue to retire early.
"The mandate is illegal, immoral and impractical," said a veteran Boeing program analyst who participated in the rally. "We stand together against a company and a government that trample on our rights."
Many legal experts have said that vaccine mandates in the interests of public health are legal.
The revolt has locked Boeing executives. The company may lose skilled staff, but must comply with a presidential order.
A Boeing spokesman said the company was determined to maintain a safe working environment for its employees.
The Order's provision on religious and medical exceptions causes more tension.  Two Textron workers who demanded religious exemptions told Reuters that the company's staff representatives asked them the names of their church leaders and asked detailed questions about their faith.
Textron declined to answer questions, but in a statement said they were obliged to follow Mr. Biden's order and took steps to do so.
"Employees who are unable to receive the covid-19 vaccination due to a medical condition or sincere religious belief are given an opportunity to request accommodation from this requirement," Textron said.
Spirit AeroSystems did not respond to a request for comment.
Raytheon Techno logies CEO Greg Hayes warned last week that the U.S. defense company will lose "several thousand" employees because of the mandate.
A group representing FedEx Corp., United Parcel Service Inc. and other carriers said it would be virtually impossible to have all of their labor vaccinated by the deadline.
Some companies have introduced vaccine mandates even in the absence of immediate government regulation.
Mercedes-Benz USA , the US unit for German carmaker Daimler AG, which is not a US government contractor, told employees in an October email that Re uters saw that evidence of covid-19 vaccination would become a condition of employment from January 4.
The carmaker said it implemented the measure pending a separate US government vaccine mandate that would apply to companies with at least 100 employees, affecting approx. 80 million workers nationwide.
Less than half of the company's workers at US import processing centers are vaccinated and many refuse to be shot, according to a source familiar with the matter.
Mercedes USA said in a statement that they had given employees 90 days notice to meet the requirement, adding that two-thirds of its U.S. employees – not including factory workers in Alabama – have provided evidence of vaccination to date.
"We expect the vast majority of our employees to provide evidence on vaccination before the deadline ", the company said.