SCHENECTADY – Union workers at General Electric Co.'s steam turbine and generator plant in Schenectady held a noon rally Wednesday outside GE's main gate to urge the company to allow them to make medical ventilator 体彩app官方网站 as part of the company's response to the COVID-19 outbreak.
GE's healthcare unit already is making ventilators using third parties and in cooperation with automakers, but the company's main union, the CWA, is asking GE to open up other factory sites in the U.S. to making ventilators using excess labor capacity in Schenectady and elsewhere.
GE has so far resisted the call to make ventilators in Schenectady. Hourly workers at the plant are represented by Local 301 of the IUE-CWA.
"The Schenectady facility produces generators for the power grids in the USA and throughout the world," the CWA said in a statement. "This facility, which formerly employed 20,000 workers and now employs just over 800, clearly has significant excess capacity. Workers are calling for the manufacturing of ventilators at this facility."
Local 301 has already expressed concerns about safety at the Schenectady plant where there had been a lack of hand sanitizer at least as of late last month.
"It is a supplier issue," GE said in a written response last month to the union. "We have ordered it, but do not have a line of sight on when it will be available for delivery."
GE is actually making hand sanitizer in-house at its research lab in Niskayuna, and it has said that retrofitting the Schenectady facility to make ventilators quickly is not a viable option. The Schenectady turbine plant is designed to make the massive steam turbines and generators for power plants at a slow pace, versus the quick ramp-up needed for ventilators.
“In Schenectady, our Gas Power workforce is fully focused on critical power infrastructure projects that are providing electricity where it’s needed around the world. Their work is critical to supporting a strong, reliable electricity grid," a GE spokesman said. "Separately, GE’s healthcare business has already doubled ventilator production and continues to explore additional opportunities to support the fight against COVID-19, prioritizing fast, efficient options to meet this immediate need.”
GE's research facilities in Niskayuna also recently donated 18,000 gloves in their stash to GE Healthcare's field team in New York City as they make sure GE equipment operates smoothly in New York City hospitals, while another 10,000 gloves were given to the Capital Region Chamber of Commerce to be given to Ellis Hospital and Albany Medical Center.