NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — Newport News Shipbuilding is now no longer requiring vaccinations for employees, and former employees who chose to quit or retire due to the mandate have the option to request a return to work, officials say.
The shipyard had previously said all of its roughly 25,000 workers would need to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as a “condition of continued employment” due to the vaccine mandate for federal workers and contractors, but Newport News Shipbuilding President Jennifer Boykin said in an update on Thursday that Huntington Ingalls clarified their Navy contracts “don’t include a vaccine mandate at this time.”
“This recent information is different from what we understood to be the government’s and the Navy’s intent,” Boykin said in a Facebook post.
Huntington Ingalls Industries President and CEO Mike Petters had said on Tuesday that their contracts with the Navy “do not include a requirement to implement the mandate,” but they were still monitoring the “fluid situation,” and if the mandate were to be required by contract, the company would move forward accordingly.
The original mandate required shipyard employees to be vaccinated by Dec. 8, and that was pushed back to Jan. 4 before ultimately being suspended.
As for those who retired or quit, or were in the process of those decisions, due to the prior mandate, Boykin says they reach out to their supervisor or human resources.
Boykin says other current COVID measures such as mask requirements will remain in place. You can read her full message below.
This also comes as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has suspended implementation and enforcement of President Biden’s COVID vaccine mandate for private employers with 100 or more employees.
Meanwhile, Newport News Shipbuilding workers and their union are also still in the process of negotiating a contract, after the union voted no on a tentative five-year collective bargaining agreement this week.