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Aerospace workers in Wichita continue showing opposition to vaccine mandate

Published: Oct. 18, 2021 at 11:03 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Wichita aerospace workers are still showing their opposition to a federal vaccine mandate that will force them to get vaccinated against COVID-19 or find a new job. Monday, hundreds of workers representing Textron Aviation and Spirit AeroSystems lined the streets around Riverfront Stadium. Many of them brought out American flags and signs with messages including “My Body, My Choice,” and “Stop the Tyranny.”

“I don’t think they should mandate the vaccine for us to have a out there,” Textron employee Rose Rosalez said. “After 23 years, I don’t think that’s right.”

Some who gathered at Riverfront Stadium Monday said they have no plans to get a vaccine, even if it costs them their job. Many also believe the mandate sets a dangerous precedent for the future.

“Where is this leading? Is it going to stop? Once they set the precedent, where is it going to go from here?” said Spirit employee Chris Kittelson.

Representing the local machinists union, IAM District Lodge 70 President Cornell Beard announced to workers Monday night that the union has retained representation to fight the mandate. He said if the mandate is carried out it could mean major staffing shortages in the aircraft industry come the December deadline.

“It looks like it’d slow down the entire aerospace industry for awhile, all around,” Beard said.

Even with some previously laid-off workers on callback lists, Beard said many of the workers are hesitant to return for the same reason.

“They’re hoping we do some good to get this stopped for the state of Kansas,” Beard said.

He said companies should be getting a letter from the union’s attorney in the next few days.

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