Employees leave as Austal reaches COVID-19 vaccine deadline

Coronavirus

MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — Several Austal employees walked out of the building on Wednesday, Oct. 27, for what could possibly be the last time. Employees had until that day to either get the COVID-19 vaccine or face termination.

One man spoke to WKRG News 5 who says he’s worked at Austal for nine years but isn’t surprised by the company’s move.

Michael Crenshaw said, “There was quite a few people that actually left today early. It was quite a few that stayed until the end of the day like we were told: You’re terminated at the end of your shift today, which was 2:30 p.m.”

Crenshaw said he accepted the termination, but that he was never given the proper paperwork. He said, “I was given a text message yesterday saying that I could come in today to HR and receive my termination papers, and I was being terminated in good standing, but I was being terminated because of the COVID vaccine mandate. And I went in today to get it, and I was told they had no paperwork. And after a little bit of a discussion with her, I was also told, ‘Oh wait a minute, the text we sent you yesterday is going to be considered your termination papers.'”

The meeting didn’t end there, it took another turn. Crenshaw said, “Then they went on from there and asked me to clock out and turn my badge over to my supervisor, which basically means I’m quitting, and I’m not quitting. I’m getting fired for not getting a vaccine, which I think is ridiculous, but it doesn’t matter.”

Crenshaw said he’s previously tried filing a medical exemption but was denied. He said, “I was informed from HR that there were no accommodations for any religious exemptions. I put one in myself, and they basically just did a blanket, ‘We’re not going to accept any of them.'”

WKRG News 5 reached out to Austal asking about the religious exemptions along with more questions and is waiting to hear back.

Crenshaw said he feels like the company backed employees into a corner — forcing them to either get vaccinated or find another job in three weeks.

“You can get the shot for whatever reason you want to, but ultimately, it should be your choice. It comes down to it’s medical freedom or medical tyranny. That’s what this is all about,” Crenshaw said.

While Crenshaw said he’s not surprised by Austal’s decision, he is disappointed. He said, “It makes you feel like what you really are to them is you’re just useless — you’re a body, you’re a warm body that shows up here every day, does what you’re told, and go home and they can replace you tomorrow. Matter of fact, they probably already have me replaced.”

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