Newport News Shipbuilding Suspends Covid Vaccine Requirements

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NEWPORT NEWS—On November 16, Huntington Ingalls Industry’s (HII) President and CEO Mike Peters announced in a letter that “with respect to Ingalls Shipbuilding and Newport News Shipbuilding, our customer has confirmed that our contracts do not include a requirement to implement the [vaccine] mandate. Technical Solutions employees are in a different situation and face varied requirements depending on the particular contract.”

This announcement comes after the Biden administration instituted a mandate on September 9 that all federal employees and contractors that do business with the government be fully vaccinated by December 8. The mandate further required that all employers with more than 100 employees need to ensure their workers are vaccinated or tested weekly.

Peters sent out a message later in September confirming that while Huntington Ingalls Industries is a publicly traded company, it is a federal contractor that provides services to the military and government through federal contracts. For that reason, at the time HII felt it was bound to contractually comply.

However, with great pushback across the country from individuals and employers that felt the mandate violates their rights, the government has been softening its initially tough stance. In the period since the mandate was first announced, Peters stated that HII has sought clarification from its customers about how contracts would need to be modified or re-priced to reflect the requirement.

In light of the response from their customers, HII has suspended the deadline for receiving the vaccine, except where specific Technical Solutions contracts require it. In his most recent letter, Peters pointed out there are still three important points to this announcement:

  • HII will continue to monitor the fluid situation closely with shipyard customers. If the mandate becomes a contractual requirement, they will proceed accordingly.
  • HII continues to strongly urge vaccination of all employees.
  • HII may choose to implement other measures aimed at improving workforce vaccination rates.