COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)
A group of 3M workers, unhappy that their employer is requiring them to be vaccinated against the coronavirus staged a walkout and protest Monday morning.
The walkout was a response to the company's requirement that employees get vaccinated by Dec. 8 or be fired. 3M is one of many companies that will be affected by a coming federal rule requiring companies with 100 or more employees to be vaccinated or regularly tested. 3M is one of Boone County's biggest employers with more than 400 workers, according to Regional Economic Development, Inc.'s annual report.
About 40 workers took part in the morning walkout. Aaron Gonzalez is one of the workers and has been working for 3M as a manufacturing engineer for over 20 years. He said he and others will do what it takes to see change.
"We protesting because these vaccine mandates are wrong for so many reasons uh it's scary what this. What this is doing. The government has no right to tell us what to do with our bodies and a lot of don't feel like this is safe," Gonzalez said.
3M stands for Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing company. The company makes a variety of products from sandpaper to adhesive tape.
President Joe Biden's new rule is not yet in effect and may not be in effect until the new year but the administration has encouraged businesses to act as if the rule is already in effect.
Vanessa Plummer, a quality engineer at 3M, said other workers across the nation are staging walkouts, too.
"People are afraid," Plummer said. "They're afraid for their jobs, even to protest. They're afraid for their jobs but we have to stand up and do what's right."
She also said some protesters didn't just walk to the front line but took a calculated risk. "They clocked in, they went to their work stations they let their supervisors know basically that they were taking a protest day"
3M spokeswoman Jennifer Ehrlich said 3M cares for its employees and wants everyone to be safe.
"We value our employees and hope they will choose to stay at 3M," Ehrlich said. "We have worked hard to preserve employee choice while doing our best to ensure health and safety. 3M will comply with the federal vaccination mandate because we are a federal contractor with more than 100 employees."
Coronavirus vaccines have met significant pushback in Missouri. Fewer than half of Missourians are vaccinated against the coronavirus, according to state health department numbers. Boone County is among the top in the state, with just 50.3% of residents fully vaccinated.