USW members proud to produce Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine

Members of Local 10-00086 in West Point, Pennsylvania, have always risen to whatever challenge is presented to them, and they are ready to step up to their next fight in helping defeat the coronavirus.

On March 10, their employer, pharmaceutical giant Merck & Co., announced that they would be assisting in the production of rival Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine. By late May, the workers at Merck’s West Point facility will be mixing the key drug component with other ingredients and filling vials with the vaccine.

“Our membership is very proud to be a part of the fight to put an end to this pandemic and save the country, and the world,” said Local 10-000086 President Mike Gauger.

A line in the facility was already set aside for a potential Merck vaccine, and changes will be made to that line to produce the Johnson & Johnson product.

“We’re really good at adjusting on the fly and meeting a challenge like this,” said Gauger. “We have a very experienced and devoted work force, and I truly believe when Merck is challenged, they know they can come here to West Point and we can get it done.”

The West Point facility employs a total of about 7,300 people, with roughly 4,000 in manufacturing, making it the largest employer in Montgomery County. It is also a major research site for Merck and serves as headquarters for its global vaccines business.

Click here to read more about the historic partnership from The Inquirer.

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