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NY officials ask for Rochester GM plant to be considered for ventilator production

General Motors

U.S. Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, and  Congressman Joe Morelle are urging  General Motors Chairman and CEO, Marry Barra, to locate ventilator production at GM’s Rochester Components plant as GM increases ventilator production to mitigate the severe shortage of that device that is expected as coronavirus (COVID-19) rapidly spreads.

Schumer, Gillibrand, and Morelle said that Rochester’s GM facility is particularly suitable location to support the increased ventilator production because it is already equipped with “clean room “ to allow for manufacturing in a sterile environment, in addition to performing high volume assembly.

Additionally, Schumer, Gillibrand, and Morelle emphasized that not only is the Rochester facility well equipped to produce medical equipment, but also that the local GM workforce is  eager and willing to contribute to the COVID-19 fight, as the leadership of the United Auto Workers Local 1097 has told the senators. The UAW Local 1097 represents Rochester’s over 800 hourly union workforce, manpower that the officials said should not be wasted in the midst of a global crisis.

“GM is gearing up to contribute to the COVID-19 fight, and our Rochester workforce is eager to help,” said Schumer. “That kind of enthusiasm for serving the country and New York, which has 5 percent of cases worldwide, should not be ignored.”

Gillibrand said that, locating GM’s ventilator production at its Rochester plant would save lives. She said that, “Already equipped for sterile manufacturing and located near the center of the nation’s epidemic, Rochester and its workforce are prepared to answer the call.”  

“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. “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.”

Dan Maloney, President UAW local 1097 said, “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.”

The push by the state and local representatives comes after GM’s announcement on March 20th that it would be joining with Ventec Life Systems in order to produce ventilators needed to treat COVID-19 infected patients with respiratory complications.

GM has said that it is exploring the feasibility to build ventilators for Ventec at a GM facility in Kokomo, Indiana.  There has been no mention at this point of using the Rochester facility for production of ventilators.

Randy Gorbman is WXXI's director of news and public affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.