On Monday, IUE-CWA members who work at General Electric issued a set of demands, calling on GE to use excess capacity to manufacture much-needed ventilators in-house and implement enhanced health measures to protect members doing essential work. Members of IUE-CWA Local 81201 marched six feet apart at GE's Lynn, Mass., Aviation facility and GE's national headquarters in Boston to appeal to the company to protect workers and save lives.
"IUE-CWA has represented frontline workers at GE for several decades, workers who have manufactured some of the nation's most innovative products," said IUE-CWA President Carl Kennebrew. "We know that the highly-trained workforce at GE, regardless of their current division, is capable of stepping up to support the needs of the American people during this global pandemic and produce desperately needed ventilators. That's why we're calling on GE to put these men and women to work and manufacture the ventilators necessary to save lives."
Ventilators are desperately needed in states across the country, including New York, California, Washington, and Florida. GE is one of the nation's leading producers of ventilators, through the company's health care division. However, GE has chosen to partner with outside corporations to help transfer the needed technology as well as their experience and their knowledge of the supply chain to source ventilator parts for new production.
CWA Local 1168 Director of Health and Safety Denise Abbott, who is a Registered Nurse, joined a press call to support the demand for ventilator production. "We are in an absolute crisis. Because of supply shortages, frontline healthcare workers like me and the members of my local union cannot follow CDC safety guidelines for protective equipment," Abbot said. "As IUE-CWA members have told us, other essential workers also do not have the equipment and procedures in place to protect their health on the job. Preventing the spread of this virus is urgent, and the alarm that my union brothers and sisters are raising must be heard – and acted upon – by every employer. We are desperate. Lives are at stake."
IUE-CWA Local 81201 members call for ventilator production and enhanced safety measures outside of GE’s Lynn, Mass. facility. Photo credit: Adrianne Mathiowetz.