Boeing to temporarily shut factories in Wash. state
Boeing announced Monday that it will temporarily shut down its operations in Washington state, where the company has two major factories and several smaller sites, in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus among its tens of thousands of employees in the region, according to three people familiar with the matter.
The factories will close for two weeks, and all of the 70,000 employees will continue to receive paychecks during that time, according to two of the people, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal decisions. Boeing is in contact with the Pentagon to determine how to handle its work on the KC-46 tanker and P-8 military aircraft, are made in the Washington factories.
For now, company’s other major production facilities, in Missouri, South Carolina, Arizona and Pennsylvania, will remain open.
Last week, the company instructed all employees to telecommute if they could but stopped short of suspending manufacturing because it is difficult to ramp up production after an assembly line has been halted.
More than 30 Boeing employees have tested positive for the coronavirus, with the majority in Washington state, the company said. Nearly 2,000 workers have been sent home to remain in isolation after possible exposure.
Boeing workers in Washington have been complaining about the conditions on the factory floors, where employees often work in close proximity and cleaning supplies are scarce, according to three current employees who spoke on the condition of anonymity. A petition to shut down a plant in Everett, the company’s largest facility, has received more than 8,200 signatures.
“There are people who leave that campus and go all over the state of Washington. They all go back to their communities and families possibly sick,” Crissy Stipkovich, who created the petition, said in an interview. Stipkovich does not work for Boeing but has family members and friends who work at the factory. “It is a hotbed for infection right now, and the employees are not being protected.”