“Being fully vaccinated by December 8, 2021 will be a condition of continued employment,” Ingalls President tells employees in memo.
President Joe Biden’s federal COVID-19 vaccine mandate is causing issues for Mississippi industries that contract with the federal government. Biden’s mandate applies to federal workers, private businesses with over 100 employees, and those companies who are contractors of the federal government.
The largest industry in Mississippi impacted by Biden’s vaccine mandate is Huntington-Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula.
Ingalls employs nearly 11,000 workers and is a major economic driver not only in the local area, but statewide and regionally.
Since President Biden made the announcement of the vaccine mandate, Huntington-Ingalls executives have been working to understand the requirements and to communicate that information to their employees.
These naval shipyard employees were designated as essential workers throughout the COVID pandemic and have worked through it all without major interruption. While a specific number has not been released, employees who contracted COVID were out their two weeks but returned to build the ships that protect America’s freedom upon getting over the virus.
Now, if they don’t comply with Biden’s mandate, they will lose their jobs.
The President of Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula is Kari Wilkinson. She sent an employee memo today outlining the company’s approach as it seeks to comply with President Biden’s mandate on their industry, telling employees they must be vaccinated by December 8th.
“All Huntington Ingalls Industries employees, and therefore all Ingalls Shipbuilding employees, contractors and customers, must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by December 8, 2021,” Wilkinson wrote.
Wilkinson told employees that the federal mandate does apply to them and to every other shipyard doing work for the Navy and Coast Guard.
In order to continue their work and to get new work, Wilkinson said the employees and the company must follow all federal regulations just as they do with all other contract requirements.
“Because of this,” Wilkinson notes, “being fully vaccinated by December 8, 2021 will be a condition of continued employment. Without contracts, we have no work and we have no jobs. Our customers and our country are depending on us to do this.”
This means if a current employee intends to remain in their job at the shipyard they must meet the December 8th vaccine deadline.
Ingalls has not said what percentage of their workforce has not been vaccinated.
Wilkinson says employees will need to submit a paper or digital copy of our vaccination card if they have not already done so. She says documentation of prior COVID-19 infection or the presence of COVID-19 antibodies do not satisfy the requirements of the mandate.
The Ingalls President says that as of today, all new hires will be required to be fully vaccinated.
As Wilkinson adds, President Biden’s vaccine mandate does not provide for a testing option in lieu of a vaccine.
Accommodations for medical and religious exemptions may be requested for approval, Wilkinson writes, but if the legal requirements are not met, or cannot be accommodated, notification will be given accordingly.
Thus far, Ingalls employees have been reluctant to speak out or publicly challenge the federal vaccine mandate. However, a Facebook group is encouraging those who object to this action to contact local media, such as WLOX, and “fight tyranny.”
Ingalls has been actively recruiting thousands of new employees over the last year or so as it has invested hundreds of millions of dollars into revitalizing their east bank facility in Pascagoula as well as modernizing their west bank facility.