Workers Protest for Safe Working Conditions at GE Aviation Plant

"We need to be reassured that we're going to have gloves, we're going to have sanitizer, we're going to have the soap."

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Workers at the General Electric Aviation plant in Lynn, Massachusetts, protested outside the facility and outside GE's Boston headquarters this week, asking for safety measures amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The union, which represents over 1,200 workers in Lynn, says the company isn't doing enough.

"We need to be reassured that we're going to have gloves, we're going to have sanitizer, we're going to have the soap," said Carmen DeAngelis, the union's health and safety director. "People are going to be able to come in here and not have to feel as though this place is going to make them sick at the end of the day."

The plant makes jet engines and parts for military aircraft.

The company recently announced it's cutting 10% of its aviation workforce because of the rapid decline in air travel.

Workers say job cuts have already hit other GE Aviation plants, and they fear it could happen in Lynn.

"There's always the possibility," said Lynn worker Justin Ciampa. "I'm always afraid, it's a scary time for all of us, so anything's possible."

The union says aviation plants could easily be repurposed to make ventilators, helping the fight against coronavirus and saving jobs.

GE says the Lynn plant is considered essential to homeland security because it provides critical equipment to the military and will not be repurposed into medical equipment production lines.

The company says ventilators are already being made at other sites.

"GE is working around the clock to increase production of much-needed medical equipment," the company said in a statement. "GE Healthcare has already doubled ventilator production capacity, with a plan to double it again by June."

"We have the facilities and the skills to assist in ventilator manufacturing and there are unemployed workers and GE workers facing layoffs around the country right now that could help build them," said Local 201 President Adam Kaszynski.

As for the sanitation issues, GE says it's made a number of improvements at the Lynn plant, including hiring 17 porters whose job is to distribute cleaning and disinfecting supplies, and the plant's cleaning budget has been doubled.

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