General Electric announced that it would be closing the Salem, Virginia plant that makes controls for GE’s power plants, according to a news statement by WDBJ7.com in Roanoke, Virg. and other sources. Union leaders are meeting with GE today in an attempt to avert the closure. It has 60 days to propose an alternative to closure of the factory.
The union president representing GE employees says the company plans to close the plant within 12 to 24 months. In all, 265 employees will be affected, 221 of those being hourly employees.
GE said in a statement: “Based on the ongoing challenges in the power industry and a significant decline in orders at this facility, we have announced our intent to close our manufacturing facility in Salem, VA, and move the remaining work to other GE locations or to supplier partners. If requested by the local union, in accordance with the collective bargaining agreement, GE will engage in a 60-day decision bargaining period with the union regarding the intended closure.”
GE told the union that volume at the plant had declined 35% in the past two years and that the facility was operating at about 40% of capacity.
In a statement, Salem Mayor Randy Foley said “Sadly industrial plants across the country have been through tough times in recent years. I think we always knew this was a possibility, especially since GE has been reducing its workforce worldwide. in past years.”
“GE truly has been a Salem institution for decades,” said Salem City Manager Kevin Boggess, “and we hope that many of these individuals can find new employment elsewhere in the valley.”
Vicky Hurley is President of IUE-CWA Local 82161 which represents workers at the plant. She says the news has affected employees in different ways.
“Some are really sad and kind of took it as being shocked and devastated,” Hurley said in an interview Friday afternoon. “Some are a little angry because they know that the work is probably going to be going overseas somewhere instead of left here in Virginia.”
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