Connect with us

Business

Exclusive-Boeing U.S. worker vaccine exemption requests top 11,000 -sources

Published

on

November 9, 2021

By Eric M. Johnson

SEATTLE (Reuters) – The number of Boeing Co employees seeking a vaccine exemption on religious or medical grounds has reached more than 11,000 – or nearly 9% of its U.S. workforce – a level many times higher than executives initially estimated, people familiar with the matter told Reuters.

The widespread reluctance has left executives scrambling for a strategy that keeps employees safe and complies with President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate for federal contractors, but avoids an exodus of engineering and factory labor, the people said.

Advertisement

The standoff comes as the U.S. planemaker tries to muscle through industrial and certification challenges on its 787, 777X and Starliner spacecraft programs, as well as depressed demand and supply-chain shortages.

Late last week, the White House pushed back to Jan. 4 its deadline for employees at federal contractors to be vaccinated or be tested regularly if they receive exemptions.

Boeing on Friday then delayed its deadline by about a month to Jan. 4 for employees to take a COVID-19 vaccine, or file an exemption on religious or medical grounds, according to industry sources and a company email seen by Reuters.

“Compliance remains a condition of employment,” the internal email said.

The Boeing email also said employees whose requests are approved would be required to wear a face covering, physically distance and frequently test for COVID-19.

Advertisement

“Anyone who has not received their final dose or been approved for an accommodation, and registered their vaccination status by Jan. 4, will be issued a final warning, and will be expected to promptly come into compliance if they wish to remain employed at Boeing,” the email said.

A Boeing spokesperson declined to provide a count of vaccination exemption requests.

“Boeing is committed to maintaining a safe working environment for our employees, and advancing the health and safety of our global workforce is fundamental to our values,” the spokesperson said.

EXEMPTION REQUESTS

Wearing a face mask on companywide webcasts, Boeing Chief Executive Dave Calhoun has urged employees to take a vaccine, two employees said.

Advertisement

Two Boeing insiders said executives initially estimated vaccine resistance from some 2% of workers, a number the company could manage. But by last week, one person familiar with the matter said more than 10,000 employees had filed religious exemptions, and a second person said the number stood at more than 11,300. Another 1,000 or so workers filed a medical exemption, another person said.

“The long list of program issues makes it tough to have company pride,” said one engineer, adding he plans to quit if his religious exemption is not granted. “The handling of the vaccine mandate is it for many.”

The issue is hitting other aerospace companies. Around 50 employees at Boeing-Lockheed Martin Corp’s United Launch Alliance (ULA) rocket factory in Decatur, Alabama, have already been placed on unpaid leave, or decided to retire early, after refusing to take a vaccine by a company deadline, two of the sources said.

A third person said ULA executives expect in a worst-case scenario to lose 15% of its roughly 2,600-person workforce, or as many as 390 people.

A ULA spokesperson said so far 1% of its workforce, or roughly 26 people, had permanently left the company. ULA “decided to require vaccinations to ensure the health and safety of our employees and to align with our U.S. government customer and industry direction,” the spokesperson said.

Advertisement

The departures come after ULA executives decided to deny all employee applications for an exemption on religious grounds, deciding it would be too time-consuming to evaluate each case, among other reasons, the third person said.

“I don’t conform to strong-arming or coercion,” said ULA welder Brent Vandiver, 45, who was among the workers placed on unpaid leave.

(Reporting by Eric M. Johnson in Seattle; Editing by Joseph White and Matthew Lewis)

Advertisement
Continue Reading
Advertisement

Business

‘Flash mob’ thieves target U.S. retail stores on Black Friday

Published

on

November 28, 2021

By Steve Gorman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Black Friday shoppers weren’t the only ones out hunting for bargains on the day after Thanksgiving. Thieves were busy as well.

Police in Los Angeles and cities elsewhere across the country spent much of their holiday weekend patrols looking for suspects in a spate of “flash mob” robberies on Friday, part of a surging U.S. crime trend in which groups of thieves swarm a store, ransack the shelves and flee.

Advertisement

Authorities also have used the term “smash-and-grab” to describe the trend.

At least two such robberies were reported on Saturday by the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. A local television station, KCAL-TV, counted a total of six smash-and-grab heists on the city’s west side alone on Friday.

In one incident, a group of eight men entered a Home Depot outlet at a shopping mall in Lakewood, south of downtown Los Angeles, walked directly to the tool aisle and snatched a bunch of hammers, sledgehammers and crowbars valued at about $400 before making their getaway, the sheriff’s office said.

According to L.A. television station KTTV, the Home Depot robbery on Friday night involved up to 20 suspects who pulled up to the store in as many as 10 cars and donned ski masks before raiding the tool aisle.

“We tried to stop them,” store employee Luis Romo told KTTV. “We closed the front entrance, and they put their sledgehammers up and whoever got in the way, they were going to hurt them.”

Advertisement

The Los Angeles City News Service said four suspects in that robbery were arrested on Saturday by Beverly Hills police.

In a similar incident Friday afternoon, a group of 10 men or more invaded a store in the city’s Fairfax district and started grabbing merchandise without paying for it, pushing employees out of the way before fleeing the scene, according to LAPD.

Police are investigating possible ties between that incident and a flurry of other robberies and retail thefts on Friday and earlier in the week, including two smash-and-grabs reported on Wednesday, an LAPD spokesperson said.

The rash of retail crime prompted the LAPD to place its officers on a citywide tactical alert on Friday afternoon.

Mass robberies also were reported on Friday at two Best Buy electronics stores in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, one of them involving as many as 30 suspects, while a spree of pre-dawn retail burglaries were under investigation in Chicago.

Advertisement

In one of the biggest flash-mob robberies reported on the West Coast in recent days, police in the San Francisco suburb of Walnut Creek were seeking about 80 suspects who swarmed and ransacked a department store last Saturday.

(Reporting by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Editing by Paul Simao)

Continue Reading

Business

U.S. Black Friday shoppers tapered online splurge, as some returned to stores

Published

on

November 27, 2021

By Arriana McLymore and Richa Naidu

RALEIGH, North Carolina (Reuters) – U.S. shoppers spent slightly less online during Black Friday this year, with many venturing back to physical stores despite coronavirus fears, tight supplies, and retailers’ efforts to encourage earlier holiday purchases.

For the first time ever, spending online during Black Friday – traditionally one of the biggest shopping days of the year – fell, reversing the growth of recent years, according to data from Adobe Analytics, a wing of Adobe’s business that specializes in data insights and tracks transactions at 80 of the top 100 U.S. retailers.

Advertisement

Retailers lured shoppers to make holiday purchases online as early as September this year, because the supply-chain logjam has prevented them from quickly replenishing year-end merchandise. Shoppers’ total outlay online during Black Friday was roughly $8.9 billion, less than the $9 billion in 2020, Adobe said. Spending online during Thanksgiving Day was flat at $5.1 billion, Adobe said.

Many retailers closed physical stores on Thanksgiving this year, as they did in 2020, amid a labor shortage and the coronavirus pandemic. Stores reopened the day after Thanksgiving, and shopper visits increased by 47.5% compared to 2020, but fell by 28.3% when compared to 2019, the last pre-pandemic year, according to data from Sensormatic Solutions.

Supply-chain challenges and shipping delays may have prompted shoppers to visit stores in order to increase the chances of securing gifts in time for Christmas. More are making purchases online that they can pick up in-store, which keeps shipping costs down.

Macy’s, Walmart, Target and Kohl’s, for example, gave shoppers the flexibility to shop online, in stores or through hybrid methods, walked away as winners on Black Friday, said Louis Navellier, chairman of investor Navellier & Associates.

Of those purchasing online, slightly more used their smartphones. Canadian e-commerce company Shopify said the number of shoppers on its platform who used smartphones to make purchases increased this year to 72% from 67% last year.

Advertisement

Retailers’ moves to encourage buying holiday gifts earlier could also lessen the importance of Cyber Monday, the first Monday after Thanksgiving.

(Reporting by Arriana McLymore and Richa Naidu, Aakriti Bhalla and Sabahatjahan Contractor in Bengaluru; Editing by Nick Zieminski)

Continue Reading

Business

Canada’s Shopify records Black Friday sales up 21%

Published

on

November 27, 2021

(Reuters) – Canadian e-commerce company Shopify Inc recorded worldwide sales of nearly $2.9 billion on Black Friday, an increase of about 21% in comparison to last year, the company said Saturday.

New York, London and Los Angeles were among the top-selling cities, the company said, while apparel and accessories was the top-selling product category.

Shopify also said it funded 23,000+ tonnes of carbon removal to counteract emissions from the delivery of every order placed on its platform on Black Friday.

Advertisement

(Reporting by Aakriti Bhalla in Bengaluru; Editing by Nick Zieminski)

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Trending