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Some JPL Workers Rally To Oppose Covid Vaccination Requirements

A NASA/JPL employee sits in front of a row of computer screens while looking up at a wall of monitors inside JPL's Control Center.
Employees inside the Control Center at NASA/JPL.
(Annie Lesser
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A group of NASA employees at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena protested the federal vaccine mandate on Monday. Members of the group, JPLNoVaxMandate, hosted a rally in La Cañada Flintridge.

Video of the protest on social media showed a small number of people gathered at a park near the JPL complex, some carrying flags and anti-vaccination signs. In all, JPL employs about 5,000 people.

Full COVID-19 vaccination will soon be a condition of employment for all federal workers — including employees of NASA/JPL — under the White House vaccination mandate. That deadline to be fully vaccinated or present a medical accommodation or religious exemption has been extended to December 8.

Taylor Ingram, a business administrator at JPL, believes the new mandate will cause a multitude of problems.

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"It's going to impact every aspect of JPL life. Projects aren't going to be able to deliver on time. Families are going to not have the support that they need. Missions could be impacted. We don't know what it's going to take or look like at this point,” Ingram said.

Employee vaccination mandates have been put in place across the United States, with deadlines fast approaching. Locally, the city of Los Angeles voted last week to give its employees until December 18 to comply or face losing their jobs.

“Let me be clear: Any employee who refuses to be vaccinated by this date should be prepared to lose their job,” L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti said in a statement issued last month. “Employees must be vaccinated by December 18, and we are putting a rigorous testing program into place in the meantime.”

The county of Los Angeles has required its employees to submit proof of COVID-19 vaccination since October 1 and is currently sending notices to employees who haven't yet complied. County employees who receive the notices will have 45 days to get the shots or request medical or religious exemptions. If not, they face a five-day suspension and another 30 days to submit proof of vaccination.

JPL employees aren’t the only ones opposed to COVID-19 vaccine mandates. Last Friday, the union representing officers of the Los Angeles Police Department sued the city over the its vaccine requirement and L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva last week claimed he would lose 44% of his workforce if such a mandate were to go into effect.

LAist/KPCC has reached out to JPL for comment.

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Updated November 1, 2021 at 7:05 PM PDT
This story was updated to reflect the size of the protest and the overall number of employees at JPL.
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