Brandishing signs reading “stand for medical freedom,” among other things, hundreds of Boeing workers in Washington state gathered in protest of the company’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
Leland Dart, a reporter with MyEverettNews.com, told Newsweek that the crowd outside Boeing’s facility in Everett, Washington appeared to be a mix of employees and individuals holding anti-vaccine sentiments there in support.
A number of protestors outside the facility yelled “f*ck Joe Biden,” a response to the president’s September executive order requiring federal contractors to implement vaccine mandates. Boeing is the government’s fourth-largest contractor, according to Bloomberg Government.
On October 12, the company issued a statement requiring its U.S. workers to receive vaccination by December 8 or face termination. This stands as just one of the battles the company has faced this week.
Boeing also faced accusations of workplace culture issues, said Representative Peter DeFazio, chair of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, which investigated two overseas accidents involving its 737 MAX aircraft that killed 346 people in October 2018 and March 2019.
“Senior leaders throughout Boeing are responsible for the culture of concealment that ultimately led to the 737 MAX crashes and the death of 346 innocent people,” DeFazio said in an October 15 statement.
This statement came in wake of the October 14 indictment of Boeing’s former chief technical pilot Mark Forkner, in connection with statements he made about the 737 MAX. Forkner faces six counts of fraud for “scheming to defraud Boeing’s U.S.‑based airline customers to obtain tens of millions of dollars for Boeing,” according to the Justice Department.
“Mark Forkner’s indictment should not be the end of the accountability for this colossal and tragic failure,” DeFazio said.
Boeing has paid over $2.5 billion in fines and compensation as part of a January deferred prosecution arrangement arranged with the Justice Department, Reuters reported. How the company may suffer as its workers prepare to strike remains uncertain. But, its employees appear ready to continue their fight.
“These vaccine mandates are especially infuriating when they are being used to abuse our members who have been going to work throughout the pandemic as ‘essential workers’ while there was no vaccine, and yet these workers exposed themselves and their families every single day to COVID-19 so that our communities could continue to function,” Teamsters Local 174, which represents Boeing employees in Washington state, said in a statement obtained by Seattle news station KING-TV.
The statement continued: “Politicians and Employers treated our members as necessary but also expendable and didn’t care about them throughout the pandemic – but now want you to believe they do care. We do not accept that.”
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