Future uncertain for Spirit AeroSystems employees after ventilator orders canceled

Coronavirus in Kansas

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Uncertainty is surrounding a thousand positions at Spirit AeroSystems. This after the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services terminated contracts for nearly 40,000 ventilators saying its stockpile is at maximum capacity.

“Everybody again, are just like in a state of shock,” said Cornell Beard, IAM District 70 President.

Spirit has been working within a partnership with Vyaire to make ventilators for months. Spirit transformed one of their plants back in May to make them.

Machinist Union President Beard says he is still trying to find more clarity on the early contact cancellation.

“I know there is plenty of work and there’s plenty of folks that need them. So we’re not understanding why the work has stopped.”

Beard believes those ventilators are bringing a new breath of life to more than just COVID-19 patients.

“Without the ventilator project, most of the employees that are over there would have already been laid off. So what this did, it created opportunities for them to still make an income, also keep their benefits going,” he said.

Beard says because of the sudden stop there is no clear answer on what’s next for the 1,000 employees working on the ventilators.

“The company doesn’t really know what direction they’re gonna go yet because if we start laying off, if we start furloughing then we gotta get them back. So, I think they are trying to take a couple of days and try to figure it out before they really start giving out definite answers,” he said.

Spirit told KSN they are also looking for clarity on the contact termination but will be ready to get back to work if needed.


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