by Ted O’Neil
Boeing Friday said it has suspended its requirement that U.S.-based employees be fully vaccinated or face losing their jobs.
The announcement comes as several attempts by President Joe Biden to require vaccinations for workers in various settings have been blocked by courts in recent weeks.
“Boeing is committed to maintaining a safe working environment for our customers, and advancing the health and safety of our global workforce,” a company spokesperson told KOMO News. “As such, we continue to encourage our employees to get vaccinated and get a booster if they have not done so. Meanwhile, after careful review, Boeing has suspended its vaccine requirement in line with a federal court’s decision prohibiting the enforcement of the federal contractor executive order and a number of state laws.”
A U.S. District Court judge in Georgia on Dec. 7 issued a preliminary injunction against Biden’s executive order requiring all companies that contract with the federal government to have a vaccine mandate in place. The order was to have taken effect starting Jan. 4.
Earlier orders requiring all employers with 100 or more employees to require vaccinations and one requiring all healthcare workers to be vaccinated have also been blocked by courts.
Biden’s executive order requiring all federal workers to be vaccinated is facing 17 lawsuits, but no judges have granted requests to block it.
Courts have also ruled that private employers, states, local municipalities and public universities are able to issue vaccine mandates.
In an internal memo to employees obtained by Defense News, Boeing said 92% of its U.S.-based workforce had either provided proof of vaccination or received a medical or religious exemption.
“The success of Boeing’s vaccine requirement to date positions the company well to comply with the federal executive order should it be reinstated in the future,” the memo said.
Reuters reported last month that some 11,000 Boeing employees, about 9% of its North American workforce, had requested an exemption. It is unclear how many were granted.
Boeing’s decision comes after other federal contractors, including Amtrak, General Electric and Union Pacific, dropped their vaccine requirements.
According to the Washington State Department of Health, the state thus far has recorded 798,239 cases of COVID-19 with 9,653 deaths.
As of Thursday, there were 495 people hospitalized with the virus, down from 720 at the start of December, with 53 people on ventilators, down from 117 over the same time period.
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