Employees Claim Shipyard Isn't Telling Them About Positive Coworkers

NBCUniversal, Inc.

NBC 7 investigates has learned more shipyard workers have tested positive for COVID-19 this week, even more have been sent home, and the company hasn't told its workers about the new cases.

More than 1,500 workers punch-in at BAE Systems everyday. Now some of them say it feels like the company is putting their work above their safety.

“It makes me feel bad, bad, bad,” says Stan Vance. “I mean it’s killing folks.”

Vance works in the shipyard.

“It’s killing us,” said Vance. “But we’re forced to come. We have no choice.”

The company works on Navy ships so it’s considered an essential business.

Adela Lugo is an electrician’s assistant at BAE. She’s worried because of recent notices about sick workers.

BAE spokesman confirmed the company told workers about two positive cases on Tuesday – one BAE employee and one sailor aboard a ship.

But a source told NBC 7 Investigates there have been even more cases since then this week, cases the shipyard hasn’t yet told its workers.

“It makes you feel that they don’t care,” said Vance. “They don’t care about us.”

The spokesman said BAE is exceeding CDC guidelines, started temperature screenings yesterday, and provides face masks for those who work within 6 ft of others.

But Vance told us otherwise.

“They’re not giving us masks,” he said. “We gotta buy them all. We gotta buy them. These things cost $5 a mask.”

Even though everyone wears masks, Lugo still feels uncomfortable and claims it’s impossible to stay far from people in her line of work. She said she doesn’t know whether to stay home or go to work – but if she doesn’t go in, she won’t get paid.

“When it comes to these jobs,” said Vance. “These jobs come first. We’re second.”

The spokesman said the affected areas have been identified and disinfected.

Two weeks ago, BAE announced it won a $200 million-plus contract to renovate and repair an amphibious attack ship for the Navy, USS Boxer. The work is expected to take 18 months and is set to begin in June.

NBC 7 also reached out to another giant San Diego shipyard, NASSCO. Last month, we reported a symptomatic worker was sent home. A spokesman tells us they’ve had additional cases since then, but would not give an exact number.

Contact Us