At the Bath Iron Works shipyard in Maine, owned by General Dynamics, predictions are that up to 1,000 workers, or 30% of the workforce, could depart rather than get the shot.
Protests against vaccine mandates have taken place at Bell in Amarillo, Texas, at General Dynamics’ plant in Lima, Ohio, and at Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula, Mississippi.
On Monday, Newport News Shipbuilding President Jennifer Boykin said: "I don't want you to hold out hope that we will reverse this policy or extend the deadlines, we simply cannot," adding that "if you have made the decision not to get vaccinated and to choose a new path that better aligns with your values and beliefs, my only request is that you become fully informed of what that means for you and your family."
More than 200 workers at Bell, and more than 130 from Lockheed Martin, are working with a lawyer to get their vaccination exemption requests honored.
Lockheed Martin says the company is "taking necessary steps to ensure a smooth implementation, including providing a system for employees to upload their proof of vaccination, get vaccinated and access a standard accommodations process for individuals unable to get vaccinated because their health status or sincerely held religious belief prevents it."
The COVID-19 vaccine and subsequent booster shots are approved by the FDA and are required for defense companies to comply with federal guidance if they want to do business with the government.
Companies are seeking to limit COVID-related job absences and losses by enforcing the mandate.
Federal contractors should "follow their standard HR processes and that for any of the probably relatively small percent of employees that are not in compliance, they'll go through education, counseling, accommodations and then enforcement," White House COVID response coordinator Jeff Zients said Wednesday. "We’re creating flexibility within the system," he added, Politico reported.
Speaking with reporters on Monday, Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby said "we are in close touch with our defense industry colleagues about this. We fully support the president's mandate that the defense contractors are vaccinated so that they can continue to do the work they need to do."
Northrop Grumman is hiring more employees in advance of the Dec. 8 deadline, CEO Kathy Warden told investors Thursday.
Hayes, Raytheon Technologiess' CEO, said this week he expected to lose "thousands" of employees because of the order.
The potential loss of skilled workers is exacerbating an already difficult situation for companies who don't have raw materials because of supply chain problems.
GOP lawmakers in recent weeks have pleaded with the Biden administration to roll back the deadline or relax the executive order’s rules.