Boeing move to shut down Puget Sound production is unprecedented

Mar 25, 2020, 10:50 AM
Renton Boeing 737 MAX...
Boeing's Renton plant. (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Boeing will be shutting down its Puget Sound production starting Wednesday, an unprecedented move to get in front of growing coronavirus cases in the workforce.

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Everything will come to a stop inside the Boeing production plants, starting a 14-day suspension of operations.

This is really unheard of for Boeing. I was working with KIRO Radio resident historian Feliks Banel on just how unusual this is, and we couldn’t think of another time when Boeing had closed its operation to this extent.

There have been line shutdowns, like we currently have on the 737 MAX, or on the 787 after experiencing battery fires, but not a complete halt like this. Production even continued after the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001.

Here’s what this means for workers: For those who are currently working at home or have the ability to work from home, they will continue to do that. The background work will continue. For plant workers who cannot work from home, they will receive 10 days of paid leave. That’s double what Boeing would normally give out for a production closure.

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Most industry experts say that a 14-day closure seems like a rosy time table. Most expect the plants to stay shut down for longer.

Thirty-two Boeing employees have tested positive for the coronavirus — 25 of them in Puget Sound, 18 of them in Everett. Boeing says this closure is not a direct response to the recent death of a 787 line employee, but to keep the outbreak from spreading.

Many employees have reached out to us over the last few weeks complaining of the lack of sanitizing and cleaning inside the plants, so stay tuned for more as we gather additional information.

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Boeing move to shut down Puget Sound production is unprecedented