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Senators, congressman urge GM to produce ventilators in Rochester

Elected officials are urging General Motors Corp. to begin producing ventilators at the company’s Rochester facility.

U.S. Sens. Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand and U.S. Congressman Joseph Morelle on Tuesday sent word to GM Chairman and CEO Marry Barra to locate ventilator production at GM’s Rochester components plant to help mitigate the severe shortage of the life-saving device.

Schumer, Gillibrand and Morelle in a joint statement explained that the Rochester plant is particularly suitable to support the increased ventilator production because it already is equipped with a large Class 100,000 cleanroom to allow for manufacturing in a sterile environment, in addition to performing high volume assembly, including injection molding and precision laser welding.

The three representatives emphasized that in addition to being equipped to produce the medical equipment, the Rochester workforce also is eager and willing to contribute to the COVID-19 fight, as the leadership of the United Auto Workers Local 1097 informed the senators. UAW Local 1097 represents Rochester’s more than 800 hourly union workers.

“GM is gearing up to contribute to the COVID-19 fight, and our Rochester workforce is eager to help,” Schumer said in the statement. “That kind of enthusiasm for serving the country and New York, which has 5 percent of cases worldwide, should not be ignored. GM’s Rochester plant is ready to go as soon as they get the word. In a fight against a pandemic where decisive action and speed is of utmost importance, there is no time to be wasted. I urge GM to locate its ventilator production at its Rochester plant, providing New York and the rest of the country with life-saving medical equipment ASAP.”

The push comes following GM’s March 20 announcement that it would be joining with Ventec Life Systems in order to produce ventilators needed to treat COVID-19 infected patients with respiratory complications. The partnership allows Ventec access to GM’s logistics, purchasing and manufacturing expertise, vastly increasing Ventec’s capacity to produce ventilators and send them to the coronavirus pandemic’s frontlines, officials said.

“Our community has always come together during times of crisis to help those in need—and we are ready to step up and do our part to fight the global COVID-19 pandemic,” Morelle said. “GM’s Rochester plant is uniquely poised to produce much-needed ventilators and help save lives in our community and across the country. We need to utilize every resource available to address this public health emergency, which is why I urge GM to act swiftly and begin its ventilator production in Rochester immediately.”

GM has made more than $200 million in upgrades in recent years, making it the ideal spot to produce the ventilators, the senators noted.

“The women and men of UAW local 1097 are ready to help out in any way that we can to make life better during this pandemic. We will answer the call to produce medical equipment that is in short supply and so desperately needed at this time. Be assured we will do all in our power to help keep our community and our Nation safe during this global crisis,” said Dan Maloney, president of UAW Local 1097.

[email protected] / 585-653-4021
Follow Velvet Spicer on Twitter: @Velvet_Spicer

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