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Workers at Lynchburg’s BWX Technologies protest over COVID-19 vaccine mandate

Nearly 100 people rallied outside the headquarters in Downtown Lynchburg Wednesday

BWX workers rally against COVID-19 mandate

LYNCHBURG, Va. – Employees walked off the job at a major Lynchburg employer due to a COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

Nearly 100 people rallied outside BWX Technologies headquarters Wednesday.

Wes Gardner, demonstration organizer and BWXT employee, says the company is considering medical and religious exemptions, but the forms required by Nov. 5 are complicated and too specific.

We’re told employees at the Hill City location are not represented by a union and want to find other solutions.

“We’ve had a mask mandate at work. We’ve been doing temperature monitoring every time we come into the plant. We do self-assessments at home before we come to work. Really, we would like to have the company actually sit down and talk and come to the table with clear, open and honest communication so we can begin to work through some of this,” said Gardner.

In a statement to 10 News, Jud Simmons, director of media and public relations for BWX Technologies Inc., said all employees must be vaccinated by Jan. 3, 2022.

“The deadline for the vast majority of our U.S. employees is Jan. 3, 2022. For a relatively small number of U.S. employees whose work places them under a specific contract vaccination requirement at this time, full vaccination must be completed by Dec. 8, 2021. We formally notified our employees of the vaccination requirements on Oct. 26, but we have been encouraging employees to get vaccinated ever since the opportunity became available.”

Simmons said employees who do not comply with be terminated.

“Full vaccination will be a condition for employment. Employees whose employment is terminated for not obtaining full vaccination by the deadline are eligible to apply for open positions for which they are qualified once they are fully vaccinated,” said Simmons.

Additional statement from Simmons on behalf of BWXT:

“COVID has had, and continues to have, a terrible impact on the BWXT family and our communities. In addition, every U.S. BWXT employee will soon be subject either to the federal contractual mandate for COVID-19 vaccination and/or the OSHA Emergency Temporary Standard regulation. As a result, BWXT is requiring all U.S. employees to be fully vaccinated as a condition of employment. BWXT will also consider medical and religious exemptions to the vaccination mandate.

We value our highly skilled workforce and continue to encourage those who are not yet vaccinated to begin the process as soon as possible. Ever since the pandemic started, we have been acutely focused on protecting the health and safety of our employees, their families and the communities where we operate. This mandate is unprecedented for our workers and our company, and we understand that employees have concerns or may desire more information. We are working to answer employees’ questions, and we are reviewing exemption requests in a thoughtful and methodical manner.”

About the Author:

Tim Harfmann joined the 10 News team in September 2020 and works at the station's Lynchburg bureau.