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Hundreds in Everett protest Boeing's COVID-19 vaccine requirement for employees

Boeing workers face a Dec. 8 deadline to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 or risk losing their jobs.

EVERETT, Wash — About 300 Boeing employees and their families pushed back against the company's new COVID-19 vaccine requirement, Friday.

They demonstrated in a rainy, raucous rally outside the airplane maker's Everett facility, defiantly demanding an end to the mandate.

In some cases, entire families said they will quit their jobs rather than follow the requirement.

"This is not the government's place, or anybody's place to be enforcing this on anyone," said Bernadette Kennedy, who has five siblings who work for Boeing.

Emily Kennedy's husband has worked for the Boeing Company for 11 years. The couple has a four-year-old daughter, Flora. 

Emily Kennedy's husband has worked for the company for 11 years. The couple is now fighting against a vaccine they don't believe in, even if it means losing the stability of a Boeing paycheck, which supports them and their four-year-old daughter. 

"I have supported him. I'm supporting him now. I will support him if he loses his job," said Emily Kennedy. 

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Boeing employs 125,000 people with some 57,000 of them across the Puget Sound region. Those employees now face a Dec. 8 deadline to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 or risk losing their jobs. Boeing said employees can request an exemption due to a "disability or sincerely held religious belief."

Anyone granted an exemption will have to undergo "frequent testing for COVID-19" and be ready to present a negative test result upon request.

Some workers, however, even expressed wariness at that.

"How they're gonna implement that is another question and whether they're gonna work with us," said a young worker at the protest, who would only identify himself as David G. "The only information we get is through the news, or Instagram. They're not telling us anything."

Boeing is the latest major company to comply with the Biden administration's vaccine mandate, including Seattle-based Alaska Airlines. Companies risk losing lucrative federal contracts if they don't fall in line.

How many of the Everett protesters are actually willing to risk their livelihoods remains to be seen, but the Kennedys said they are not backing down.

"If Boeing doesn't listen, they're gonna lose a lot of really good employees," said Bernadette Kennedy.

"I've told my husband I'm with him on this," added Emily Kennedy, "We're not getting the vaccine either."

KING 5 reached out to Boeing Friday for a comment regarding the protests. The company issued the following statement: "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 and a core priority every day."

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