On April 20, more than 40 factory workers in Marcus Hook, Pennsylvania, cheered each other on as they clocked out after having lived at the facility for 28 straight days.
As 6 ABC reports, the employees had volunteered to eat and sleep at the Braskem America factory, where they worked 12-hour shifts to produce polypropylene, a non-woven fiber used to manufacture sanitary wipes and personal protective equipment like N95 masks and hospital gowns.
“There’s been a glow in everyone’s eyes today, I’ll say,” operations shift supervisor Joe Boyce told 6 ABC, later adding, “All the first responders, all the people on the frontlines, we thank you. That’s what makes our job easy to do.”
During their stint, Boyce and his colleagues were completely cut off from the rest of their community, though family and friends did occasionally organize drive-by parades to keep their spirits up. And while that extended self-isolation was far from ideal, it did afford them a certain sense of security from the new coronavirus. Boyce pointed out that he hadn’t had to worry about staying 6 feet away from people or wearing masks in public yet.
Braskem, a multinational company that produces an array of raw materials beyond polypropylene, instituted the live-in “resiliency team” as a way to keep employees safe and healthy while striving to meet the nation’s increased need for medical protective gear. According to a press release, similar teams are operating at other Braskem factories, too.
“On behalf of the entire Braskem team, I want to offer our gratitude to all the first responders and essential employees working every day across industries for coming together to help protect and serve our communities,” Braskem America CEO Mark Nikolich said in the press release.
In addition to earning higher wages for their work, the Marcus Hook employees were granted a full week off to spend at home before returning to a regular schedule next week.
[h/t 6 ABC]