As the world's hospitals are in dire need of ventilators amid the coronavirus outbreak a number of companies are turning their factories into ventilator-making plants.
One such company that's still lagging behind in shifting its factories in such a way is General Electric (GE). Workers at two of its bases launched a protest on Monday to urge management to shift their regular jet engine making to making ventilators.
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Factory workers at GE's Lynn, Massachusetts aviation facility held a silent protest where they all walked six feet apart, and union members of its Boston headquarters also marched six feet apart. The protesters were demanding that the company use its factories to make ventilators and help the country deal with the massive shortage amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The GE workers' requests come at an odd time for the company as it recently stated it would let go of 10% of its domestic aviation workforce, laying off 2,600 workers as well as temporarily letting go of 50% of its maintenance workers. The aim is for GE to try and save the company during this tough economic time.
I stand with GE’s workers who are calling on the company to convert its factories to produce ventilators.
No more layoffs, outsourcing, and tax dodging, @generalelectric. Put Americans to work manufacturing the life-saving ventilators we need. https://t.co/wCbDrCmWZ9— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) March 30, 2020
The timing keeps playing an interesting role here as GE's statement came just at the same time that Congress was contemplating a multi-trillion-dollar bailout in loans and temporary tax relief for the aviation industry — a bracket that GE falls under. However, GE stated that they have no plans to request funds from the stimulus.
If GE keeps laying off workers there will be a shortage of experienced workforce should the company start manufacturing ventilators.
GE's Healthcare Division is already one of the U.S.'s largest manufacturers of ventilators, and union members believe that the company should convert its other factories to make these life-saving devices.
U.S. President Donald Trump has already called on General Motors to make ventilators, so the time for GE to start making more of them might come soon.