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3M employees joined by local legislators in protest against federal vaccine mandate

3M employees continue to voice their displeasure of the federal vaccine mandate.

Employees at Columbia's 3M plant protested again outside its building on Wednesday morning, following last week's protests.

Because 3M is a federal contractor and has more than 100 employees, it is subject to the federal vaccine mandate that President Joe Biden implemented back in September.

Protestors who attended told KOMU 8 News they were both vaccinated and unvaccinated and said the mandate is the issue, not the vaccine itself.

Torrey Nicholes, a 3M employee and protestor, called the mandate "over the top" and that it's a far reach into employees' privacy.

"It’s more than just a vaccine mandate because everyone is fighting COVID in their own way. We haven’t overlooked that, but for them to tell me how to fight COVID, I think that’s a little unfair," Nicholes said.

Rep. Cheri Toalson Reisch (R-Hallsville) and Rep. Ed Lewis (R-Moberly) joined 3M protestors Wednesday to show their support.

The 3M plant is located in Rep. Reisch's district. She said some of the protestors are her constituents.

"I'm here to support them, and I agree that this mandate needs to be gotten rid of," Reisch said.

Reisch also said she also agrees with Gov. Mike Parson and Attorney General Eric Schmitt's fight and lawsuit against the federal mandate.

Aaron Gonzalez, one of the protest organizers, said there were many different kinds of people in attendance.

"We have a 3M employee that drove up here from Florida," Gonzalez said. "We all have to join together to stop this mandate."

Gonzalez also said he received some sentiment from the plant's directors about the mandate.

"I don't know if they can say it or not, but talking to them personally, some of the plant directors are against the mandate, but they're in a tough position," Gonzalez said.

Some 3M employees told KOMU 8 last week that they would be willing to lose their jobs to fight this mandate, but Nicholes said he would stay with the company.

"Yeah, it’s a reputable company, it's job security and it does pay the bills... 3M is still a good place," he explained.

He mentioned his mother is at high risk of getting COVID-19, and that's why he received the vaccine − to prolong his opportunity of spending time with his mother.

3M said it will comply with the federal vaccination mandate but they also expressed that they have "worked hard to preserve employee's freedom of choice while still ensuring health and safety."

KOMU 8 is a full-powered NBC affiliate operating as an independent commercial property. As such, KOMU 8 is the only major network affiliate in the United States that acts as a university-owned commercial television station utilizing its newsroom as a working lab for students.