Vaccination mandates create conflict with worker provocateurs



Josh Reynolds / Associate Press

Justin Paetow, center, a tin shop worker at Bath Iron Works, participates in a protest against the COVID-19 vaccine mandate outside the shipyard on Friday, October 22, 2021 in Bath, Maine.

BATH, Maine – Josh “Chevy” Chevalier is a third generation shipbuilder who didn’t miss a day’s work during the pandemic in his job as a welder building Navy warships on the Maine coast.

But he is ready to quit his job due to an impending tenure of President Joe Biden who federal contractors and all U.S. businesses with 100 or more workers be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

“People are fighting for their constitutional rights – the way they think their lives should be,” said Chevalier, one of hundreds of Bath Iron Works employees threatening to leave.

Chevalier is one of a small but significant number of working Americans who decide to quit their jobs and careers in defiance of what they see as intrusive edicts that affect their freedoms.

The Biden administration, public health officials, and many business leaders agree vaccine requirements are legal and prudent actions needed to help the world come out of a pandemic that has killed more than 700,000 Americans and nearly 5 million people around the world.

Provocative workers make up only a small fraction of the overall workforce, with many cities, states and businesses reporting that more than 9 in 10 of their workers comply with mandates.

But they have the potential to create disruption in a tight labor market and have become the latest hurdle to overcome the vaccine reluctance that allowed the COVID-19 crisis to take a devastating turn over the summer. In many cases, the reasons for objections are rooted in misinformation.

Refusals come from all types of professions: defense industry workers, police, firefighters, educators and healthcare workers. In Seattle, a group of city firefighters returned their boots to city hall on Tuesday to protest a vaccination requirement.

Thousands of people demanded religious or medical exemptions which were rejected; others will not stand to be told what to do and have quit or been fired.

Washington State University football coach Nick Rolovich was laid off from his $ 3.2 million-a-year job on Monday, along with four assistants. Rolovich, the first major college coach to lose his job due to his vaccine status, called for a religious exemption but declined to give details. He pursues.

The conflict over mandates is expected to intensify in the coming weeks. Biden administration should move forward any day with the require employers with 100 or more workers require all employees to be vaccinated or tested weekly, although application is unlikely to begin for several weeks. The rule for federal contractors goes into effect in December, with no testing option, but many businesses, governments and schools are already implementing warrants.

The US Chamber of Commerce and other groups that represent large employers have warned that workers could simply migrate to jobs at smaller companies where they are not subject to vaccination requirements. This could create challenges for large retailers as the holiday season approaches, among other disruptions, the chamber warned.

People who have quit their jobs and are looking for a job that does not require vaccination share information on social media. Small employers looking for workers are turning to online job boards such as RedBalloon, where employers pledge not to make vaccines a condition of employment.

Andrew Crapuchettes, founder and CEO of RedBalloon, said he launched the online job site more than two months ago for people “who just want to work and don’t want to get into the business. office politics “. More than 800 companies posted and more than 250,000 people visited the site, he said.

Some states, including Texas, Montana, and Florida, are preparing to fight or undermine the Biden mandates. Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued an executive order on Monday banning any entity from requiring vaccines.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Thursday he would call a special session to pass legislation to fight vaccination warrants, saying that “in Florida, your right to earn a living does not depend on the choices you make. you do in terms of those injections. “

Melissa Alfieri-Collins, a 44-year-old mother of two, said she resigned as a nurse at Jersey Shore Medical Center in Neptune, New Jersey, rather than undergo regular COVID-19 testing.

She said the hospital had recognized her request for a medical exemption, but she had opposed the requirement that only unvaccinated people be tested, arguing that even those vaccinated could spread the disease.

“My family and I had a long conversation, and I basically don’t want to compromise my values ​​anymore,” said Alfieri-Collins, who hopes to become a nurse practitioner and pursue her own holistic practice.

“I am very sad because I am the kind of nurse who loves my patients and my patients love me,” she said.

Anthony Polenski, director of strategic partnerships for tech recruiting company, said he was seeing candidates who wanted to know, “Is this company going to force me to take a hit? Polenski said they often left their former employers because of a vaccination warrant.

“They don’t want their immunization status tied to their job,” he said.

At the Maine shipyard, frustration is mounting among union members.

Around 100 shipbuilders gathered outside the shipyard during their lunch break on Friday to protest against being required to be vaccinated. They marched down the street, holding up placards decrying the mandate and using choice four-letter words that made it clear what they thought of the president and his vaccine mandates.

The union fears losing more than 1,000 workers, or 30% of its members, during the term of the federal contractor.

Dean Grazioso, a 33-year Bath Iron Works employee, said he was not anti-vaccine but knew vaccinated colleagues, friends and family who contracted groundbreaking COVID infections -19. Such infections are rare, and vaccinated people who contract COVID-19 usually have mild symptoms and are much less likely to be hospitalized or die.

The 53-year-old is still in the process of deciding whether to get shot.

“I’m still in the air,” he said. “But I have a huge decision to make.”



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