Coronavirus layoffs loom over GE worker protests as company ramps up ventilator production

The protests come after news of layoffs at GE

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General Electric workers rallied by their union held protests asking GE to let them make ventilators and improve coronavirus safety conditions, although the company said it is already meeting many of their demands.

The union, Industrial Division of the Communications Workers of America, said empty buildings could be producing ventilators and the it wants GE and union officials to meet about safety conditions.

GE's health care business said it has doubled ventilator production, and it is partnering with Ford to make 50,000 ventilators. In terms of worker safety, the company is rolling out temperature checks, something the workers have demanded.

The protests came after news that GE's aviation unit will lay off about 10 percent of its U.S. workers. GE workers demonstrated at four facilities: Schenectady, N.Y.; Lynn, Mass.; Dallas, and Salem, Va. The Salem facility closed in 2019.

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GE maintains that many of its facilities aren't designed to switch for the high-volume production that making ventilators would require.

A ventilator is pictured during an instruction of doctors at the Universitaetsklinikum Eppendorf in Hamburg, on March 25, 2020. (Photo by AXEL HEIMKEN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

GE's health care business continues to explore additional opportunities to support the fight against COVID-19 by prioritizing fast, efficient options to meet the immediate need, a GE spokesperson told FOX Business.

"At the same time, our other facilities continue supporting mission-critical work for our customers, from supporting the nation’s power grid to supporting the nation’s Armed Forces," the spokesperson said.

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