BOEING told employees Friday afternoon that “a safe and orderly restart of limited operations” will begin at a few Washington state sites as early as Monday.
Out of about 30,000 employees idled by the shutdown, Boeing will recall just about 2,500 employees for this work, The Seattle Times reported. The company said it will provide the workers with personal protective equipment and enforce social distancing measures.
The news comes only five days after Boeing announced that its shutdown in the local plants to contain the spread of COVID-19 would be extended indefinitely.
Those called back will be deployed at company defense programs — including the Navy’s P-8 anti-submarine plane built in Renton and the Air Force KC-46 tanker built in Everett — as well as maintenance operations at Moses Lake in support of the grounded 737 MAXs stored there.
In its message to employees, Boeing said that some other “essential labs and support teams will also resume to support critical customer needs.”
Before the initial two-week shutdown that took effect March 25, Boeing had come under criticism from some employees concerned by the growing number of co-workers who’d tested positive for the disease and by the death of one of them.
Jon Holden, president of the International Association of Machinists union District 751, said the restart “certainly is positive as long as Boeing can provide a safe workplace.”