UPDATED 8:29 AM PT – Tuesday, October 19, 2021
Hundreds of Washington State Ferry (WSF) workers are at risk of losing their jobs for refusing to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
While speaking to the press on Monday, 23-year Chief Engineer Craig Hendricks said although his religious exemption was granted, the ferry system refused to make any accommodations that would allow him to keep working.
“I applied for other accommodations maybe like driving a snow plow or something, you know what I mean? Anything,” he explained. “Nothing. They won’t accommodate me in any way, shape or form.”
At least 200 Washington ferry workers could get fired for not getting the jab as of Monday’s deadline. This comes as the ferry system is already plagued with staffing shortages.
Deck worker Christopher Anderson stressed the state can solve the shortage issue if they were to grant people the appropriate accommodations, but said the public will now have to pay.
“The passengers they’re going to be missing medical appointments, they’re going to be stranded at the terminals for hours on end, they’re going to be late for their own jobs,” Anderson pointed out. “It has a big ripple effect.”
However, a spokesman for the WSF, Ian Sterling, said they believe they have the situation all under control.
“Well, we’re pretty confident we can keep the schedule we have right now, so people can rely on the ferry services that they always have,” he asserted. “There may not be a boat quite as often, it’s like having a two lane highway and closing one of the lanes.”
Ferry officials said although several accommodations have been granted at the end of the day, if workers have not received the jab then they will be left without a job.