Hot topics | Coronavirus pandemic

Raytheon, GE and others face the prospect of losing workers over the COVID-19 vaccine mandate

Raytheon, GE and others face the prospect of losing workers over the COVID-19 vaccine mandate

As the deadline for the Biden administrations COVID-19 vaccine mandate for federal contractors approaches, the chief executive officer of Raytheon Technologies said the company could lose eighty-seven thousand people who dont want to be vaccinated.

Greg Hayes told CNBC on Tuesday that 3 percent of the defense contractors 125,000-person workforce will most likely refuse to get the vaccine before the Dec. 8 deadline. Thats roughly 3,500 people who are at risk of losing their jobs.

This is a tough time, but we're getting ready for it. Were hiring today, Hayes said. It's the right thing to do, frankly. We need to have people vaccinated to keep this epidemic under control.

More than 80 percent of the companys workforce is fully vaccinated, according to Hayes.

Raytheon said on Sept. 15 that workers would need to be fully vaccinated by Jan. 1, but a week later, the Biden administration announced that the deadline for federal contractors would be Dec. 8.

7,500 as-yet-unvaccinated workers have indicated that they would be vacccinat by the deadline, Hayes said, and another 3,500 have asked for a religious or medical exemption. (The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has yet to release more information on the COVID-19 vaccine mandate that would apply to all private employers with more than 100 employees.)

Raytheon refused to provide vaccination status data for its 14,700 workers based in Massachusetts.

The issue facing Raytheon is rife throughout the state, as firms that work with the federal government have less than two months to ensure their workers are fully vaccinated.

The mandate has sparked a union fight at General Electric in Boston, with workers claiming that GE didnt give them enough time to negotiate how the policy will play out.

Justin Richards, a business agent for IUE-CWA Local 201, said he believes that more than half of the unions 1,200 members in Lynn are unvaccinated. They still have questions about what will happen if they dont meet the deadline, since being fired, laid off, or furloughed will have different impacts on benefits such as healthcare or severance packages, he added.

A GE spokesman said in an e-mail that the business is following the executive order on vaccine mandates, which is not subject to negotiation. We have and will continue to have open discussions with union leadership regarding our COVID protocols, including the recent vaccine mandate, as we have throughout the epidemic.

Anissa Gardizy can be reached at aniss.gardiy@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @anissagardizy8.

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