The Pentagon is confronting some defense workers with a wrenching choice: go to the factory floor to keep building destroyers, fighter aircraft and missiles and risk infecting each other and their communities with the novel coronavirus, or stay home and be faulted for delaying much-touted national security priorities.
The Defense Department and some of the major companies serving it have dug in, continuing work on missile-guided destroyers and the newest fighter aircraft, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, even after workers tested positive for Covid-19 at General Dynamics Corp.’s Bath Iron Works in Maine and Lockheed Martin Corp.‘s Fort Worth, Texas, plant.
“You have all these people working in a petri dish every night and they can bring it home with them to their families,” said Chris Wiers, a welder and president of Local S6, an affiliate of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, one of four unions represented at the Bath shipyard. The S6 local has more than 3,500 members.
The plant “can potentially be the biggest reason for the spread of the virus in the state of Maine,” Wiers said. Only 60% of Bath’s workers have been showing up to work. (end of excerpt)
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