Workers at a local defense contractor, and Hunt County’s largest employer, conducted a protest early Friday morning, opposing a COVID-19 mandate at the facility.
L3 Harris issued a statement concerning the incident: “We respect the right of our employees to protest peacefully and that’s what occurred this morning. We know all our Greenville employees are committed to our national security missions, and we are complying with the new vaccine mandate so we can resume further in-person collaboration by our entire workforce as soon as possible. We’ll also ensure those with accommodation requests for medical or religious reasons will be carefully and sincerely considered, which is consistent with our approach throughout the pandemic to maintain safe, sustainable work environments for our employees.”
Several people lined up before dawn outside of the main gate at the L3 Harris plant in Greenville, waving signs indicating they were against the executive order issued in early September by President Joe Biden requiring vaccination for employees of contractors who do business with the federal government, with no option to test out.
The signs read “This is not about a virus anymore.” ‘Freedom not force,” and “I call my shots, not you.”
Todd Christmas said he helped organize the protest.
“It is about they are forcing us to take a shot that we don’t want to take to keep our employment,” Christmas said. “The entire plant.”
About two dozen people had gathered in the dark at 5 a.m. the planned start of the event. Later estimates of the crowd were set at anywhere between 50 and 100 participants.
Christmas was unsure how many would eventually be a part of the protest.
“A lot of them said they would be here,” he said, adding the protest would be a peaceful one and that anyone causing a disturbance would be required to leave.