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As Boeing resumes work, unions say safety comes first

IAM 751 and SPEEA tell members: Safety is our top priority amid pandemic


SEATTLE (April 17, 2020) — The Boeing Co. on Thursday announced a phased approach for resuming work at its Puget Sound-area facilities to begin next week, promising that “the company has taken extra precautions and instituted comprehensive procedures to keep people safe and fight the spread of COVID-19.”

The unions that represent Boeing workers say that making sure Boeing keeps that commitment to safety is their top priority, and explained to their members Thursday how they can ensure that happens.

Following are some excerpts from the messages to members sent Thursday by the International Association of Machinists (IAM) District 751 and the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace/IFPTE 2001.

From IAM District 751:

Our top priority remains the safety of our members and your families. You have a right to a safe work environment and should be provided with all the proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). We are asking every member to take responsibility to ensure you are safe as you return to work. While many changes in the work environment may be inconvenient or make your job more cumbersome, know that it is to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus, while also protecting you and your co-workers in the factory. Please take the use of PPE very seriously and continue using increased handwashing to slow the spread of COVID-19. …

Article 16.1 Imminent Danger Stop Work clause of our contract will continue to be the best way to identify and react immediately to hazardous working conditions during this time utilizing the Stop Work authority formulated in the CBA. This allows for members to identify hazards and work to resolve them quickly. …

We have heard from many members who, for a variety of reasons, may not be able to return to work during this COVID-19 pandemic. Members who are high risk, or who need to care for children that are out of school, have an ill family member or are “concerned with working on site due to Coronavirus,” can be absent from work and use vacation, sick leave or excused LWOP, without having to exhaust benefits or face discipline. You will need to notify management that you must be off work due to COVID-19 reasons. Be sure that you discuss this with your manager and follow your organization’s requirements for reporting daily absences.


With The Boeing Company announcing commercial airplane operations will resume on Monday and Tuesday, SPEEA reminds all represented employees that remaining safe at work is every employee’s top priority. …

The company informed SPEEA it received the go-ahead to resume operations from the State of Washington. It assured our union that Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) will be supplied to employees. It is vital everyone use PPEs and follow distancing guidelines. Immediately report any lapses to management AND to your SPEEA Council Rep and/or the SPEEA office.

While we certainly hope all safety precautions are in place, experience tells us lapses will occur. This is human nature. The faster these lapses are reported and corrected, the safer the workplace becomes. The last thing Boeing and its employees need at this difficult time, is a COVID-19 crisis created by someone not wearing proper PPEs or not following distancing guidelines.

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