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Machinists union vows to fight Spirit AeroSystems, Textron Aviation vaccine mandates

Spirit AeroSystems employees gather outside the company in Wichita in opposition to a COVID-19...
Spirit AeroSystems employees gather outside the company in Wichita in opposition to a COVID-19 vaccine requirement.(KWCH)
Published: Oct. 13, 2021 at 4:39 PM CDT
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WICHITA (KWCH) - The International Association of Machinists and Aviation Workers, District Lodge #70 has issued letters to Spirit AeroSystems and Textron Aviation regarding COVID-19 vaccine mandates. Many Spirit AeroSystems employees held a rally last week to voice their opposition to the mandate.

In the letter to the heads of both aviation manufacturers, IAM District Lodge 70 president Cornell Beard requests that the companies show proof that vaccination policies are not unconstitutional and show proof that the natural immune system and antibodies are not safer or longer-lasting than the vaccination. There are 21 requests in all.

The union is trying to hire an attorney to fight the mandate, stating that it strongly opposes “any attempt of the company to mandate the COVID-19 Vaccination or force the COVID-19 Vaccination upon any IAM represented employees by the threat or coercion.”

The aviation companies have pointed to an executive order from President Biden which requires shots for all employees of a federal contractor as a reason for the mandate. Spirit AeroSystems said that as a federal contractor, frequent testing is not an option for employees who wish to opt-out of getting vaccinated.

Spirit AeroSystems issued the following statement:

Spirit AeroSystems informed our U.S.-based employees today that COVID-19 vaccinations will be mandatory, effective Dec. 8, 2021, as outlined in an Executive Order issued by President Joe Biden on Sept. 9, 2021. The President’s order mandates vaccines for all employees of federal contractors. The requirement applies to existing as well as new defense contracts, and goes beyond employees who directly support defense contracts.

Spirit AeroSystems is a federal contractor that supports contracts with the Department of Defense and other agencies. As a Federal contractor, testing is not an option for Spirit employees. Spirit is working with local healthcare providers to administer vaccines free of charge.

The health and safety of employees has been a paramount concern as we have managed the challenges Spirit has faced during the pandemic and the requirements of the Executive Order.

Textron Statement issued the following statement:

Textron is obligated to comply with President Biden’s Executive Order regarding mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations and is actively taking the steps necessary to meet its obligation. We have asked employees to provide their vaccination status and, as federal contractors, requested employees to begin the process to become fully vaccinated by December 8, 2021. Employees who are unable to receive the COVID-19 vaccination due to a medical condition or sincerely held religious belief will be provided an opportunity to request an accommodation from this requirement. We value our employees’ contributions to meeting the demands of our customers and driving our company’s success.

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