GE workers protest at multiple sites in pitch to make ventilators

GE workers protest at multiple sites in pitch to make ventilators
© Getty Images

Workers at several General Electric plants protested on Wednesday, calling on company executives to shift production toward ventilators in a bid to save jobs.

USA Today reported that four GE locations were the sites of protests on Wednesday as workers represented by the Industrial Division of the Communications Workers of America pushed GE executives to shift production to ventilators and avoid cutting or furloughing employees.

The company had previously announced plans to lay off about 10 percent of its U.S. workforce and furlough about 50 percent of maintenance and repair workers for 90 days, according to USA Today.


"Instead of laying workers off, GE should be stepping up to the plate with us to build the ventilators this country needs," said union President Carl Kennebrew. "In the plants that are up and running, GE also needs to keep workers safe on the job."

GE officials maintained, however, that their factories were not set up for high-volume production of ventilators and contended that many facilities were already being used for other critical needs.

The company "is working around the clock to increase production of much-needed medical equipment. GE Healthcare has already doubled ventilator production capacity, with a plan to double it again by June, in addition to partnering with Ford Motor Company to further increase ventilator production," a spokesperson told USA Today.

The U.S. has faced shortages of ventilators amid the coronavirus outbreak, which has stressed the national supply and led to state governors in some cases competing in the private market to obtain necessary supplies of the equipment.