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Newport News Shipbuilding is seen from an aerial view July 3, 2019.
Newport News Shipbuilding is seen from an aerial view July 3, 2019. (Jonathon Gruenke, Daily Press/TNS)

(Tribune News Service) — Newport News Shipbuilding’s parent company is suspending its mandate that employees get COVID-19 vaccinations if they want to keep their jobs.

The Navy “has confirmed that our contracts do not include a requirement to implement the mandate,” Huntington Ingalls Industries president and chief executive officer Mike Petters wrote in a letter to employees Tuesday night.

“In light of this development, we are hereby suspending the deadline for vaccination, except where specific Technical Solutions contracts require it,” Petters wrote.

The letter was released hours before United Steelworkers Local 8888, which represents more than 10,000 of Newport News Shipbuilding’s 25,000 reported that members rejected the tentative contract agreement reached over the weekend.

In his letter, Petters said that HII has asked the Navy to clarify “how our many contracts would need be modified and re-priced to reflect” the federal contractor mandate, especially as it changed over the past few weeks.

He added that HI is closely monitoring the fluid situation, adding that if the mandate is required under shipyard contracts “we will proceed accordingly.”

In addition, he wrote, HII will keep urging employees to get vaccinated.

He said the company may choose to implement other measures aimed at improving the workforce vaccination rate.

This is a developing story.

dress@dailypress.com

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