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caption: A Boeing employee walks out of the Boeing Renton Factory after shift change on Monday, December 16, 2019, in Renton.
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A Boeing employee walks out of the Boeing Renton Factory after shift change on Monday, December 16, 2019, in Renton.
Credit: KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Boeing shuts down production in Seattle area

Boeing is suspending factory production in the Puget Sound Region.

The shutdown will last 14 days starting on March 25. The company announced the decision after a call with Governor Jay Inslee.

The decision affects tens of thousands of workers. Boeing says those who cannot do their jobs from home will have paid leave during the 14 days. An internal memo obtained by KUOW says if the suspension continues beyond 14 days, workers can use up accumulated sick and vacation time before being placed on leave without pay.

Keeping the factories running as been vitally important to the company. Boeing has borrowed billions of dollars during the grounding of the MAX and has been keeping workers at its Renton factory engaged despite suspending production of the MAX in January.

When workers turned up sick with COVID-19, the company initiated deep cleanings and tried dividing work areas into zones to keep workers from mingling. But now the company reports that it knows of 25 COVID-19 cases at Boeing’s Puget Sound operations. One worker, a shop steward in Everett, has died.

The machinists union represents production workers who are most at risk – economically and physically. It says it supports Boeing’s decision. It says it is working with the state to give older workers and those with medical conditions the ability to collect unemployment, instead of returning to the shop floor.