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Maryland Delegation Members Urge Trump, GM to Reopen White Marsh Plant to Manufacture Ventilators, Reduce National Shortage

Apr 21, 2020
Press Release
White Marsh Plant and Workforce Uniquely Suited to Produce Ventilators as Maryland COVID-19 Hospitalizations Increase

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen and Ben Cardin and Congressmen C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, Jamie Raskin, David Trone, John P. Sarbanes, Anthony G. Brown, and Steny H. Hoyer (all D-Md.) sent letters to President Trump and General Motors (GM) Chairman and CEO Mary Barra urging them to reopen the GM plant in White Marsh, Maryland. In their letter, the Members stress that the plant should be reopened to help fulfill GM’s recent contract to produce thousands of ventilators under the Defense Production Act and in order to supply the region as the number of local COVID-19 cases continues to grow.

“On April 8, GM received a contract to build 30,000 ventilators under the Defense Production Act,” the Lawmakers state in their letter to President Trump. “Until its closure, the White Marsh plant employed hundreds of workers producing highly complex machinery from electric motors to transmissions. The federal government’s recent contract with GM provides you with an opportunity to utilize these workers’ skills.”

The White Marsh GM plant is well-positioned to increase the supply of ventilators in an area that needs aid. The Baltimore-Washington corridor has been declared a hotspot by the federal government, and Maryland as a whole has seen over 13,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of April 20.

“As numbers continue to rise across the state and region, reopening the White Marsh plant will put high-skilled workers back to work and ensure that ventilators will be available and easily accessible in an area with multiple hotspots,” the Members go on to note.

In their letter to GM, the Lawmakers emphasize worker safety and call for worker-developed safety protocols. They write, “Instituting the highest health and safety standards is fundamental to protect workers who are putting themselves at risk to help our nation respond to the COVID-19 public health emergency. As General Motors (GM) begins to produce ventilators, it is essential to protect the health and safety of workers and prevent the transmission of COVID-19. To ensure that safety, we urge you to include your workers in the development of workplace health and safety protocols, as they are the ones directly impacted by these policies.”

The full text of the letter to President Trump is available here and below.

Dear President Trump:

We write to urge you to use your authority under the Defense Production Act to order General Motors (GM) to reopen its plant in White Marsh, Maryland to produce much-needed ventilators for hospitals. 

On April 8, GM received a contract to build 30,000 ventilators under the Defense Production Act. It is unfortunate that the Defense Production Act was not invoked months ago so that these ventilators could be rolling off the line now, since COVID-19 has been a public health emergency since the end of January. Maryland now has over 13,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19, as of April 20. As numbers continue to rise across the state and region, reopening the White Marsh plant will put high-skilled workers back to work and ensure that ventilators will be available and easily accessible in an area with multiple hotspots.

Requiring the highest health and safety standards is fundamental to protect workers who are putting themselves at risk to help our nation respond to the COVID-19 public health emergency. As GM and other companies respond to COVID-19, we must ensure that they are protecting the health and safety of their workers and preventing transmission of COVID-19 in their plants.

Until its closure, the White Marsh plant employed hundreds of workers producing highly complex machinery from electric motors to transmissions. The federal government’s recent contract with GM provides you with an opportunity to utilize these workers’ skills. We urge you to use your authority under the Defense Protection Act to reopen the plant with the highest safety standards and put these employees back to work.

Sincerely,

The full text of the letter to GM is available here and below.

Dear Chairman Barra:

We write to urge you to reopen your plant in White Marsh, Maryland to produce much-needed ventilators for hospitals.

On April 8, you received a contract to build 30,000 ventilators under the Defense Production Act. Maryland had over 13,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of April 20. As numbers continue to rise across the state and region, reopening the White Marsh plant will put high-skilled workers back to work and ensure that ventilators are available and easily accessible in an area with multiple hotspots.

Instituting the highest health and safety standards is fundamental to protect workers who are putting themselves at risk to help our nation respond to the COVID-19 public health emergency. As General Motors (GM) begins to produce ventilators, it is essential to protect the health and safety of workers and prevent the transmission of COVID-19. To ensure that safety, we urge you to include your workers in the development of workplace health and safety protocols, as they are the ones directly impacted by these policies.

Until its closure, the White Marsh plant employed hundreds of workers producing highly complex machinery from electric motors to transmissions. The federal government’s recent contract with GM provides you with an opportunity to utilize these workers’ skills. We are also urging President Trump to use the Defense Production Act to reopen the White Marsh plant, but we hope you will move proactively to reopen the plant with the highest safety standards and put these employees back to work.  

Sincerely,