FORT EDWARD, N.Y. -- GE has announced its intent to move to a newly created manufacturing center in Clearwater, Florida, and to close its Fort Edward manufacturing facility - a move that could affect nearly 200 employees.
The company says the Fort Edward site continues to be non-competitive in their core product offerings, which has led to a volume decline in core product lines over the past few years.
According to officials, the objective of the proposed move to the new Florida site would be to address the increasing cost pressures by positioning the Capacitor business as part of a larger, more cost competitive location and to effectively leverage the existing Clearwater support structure including manufacturing engineering, quality, design engineering, human resources and commercial engagement.
The proposed closure is subject to a 60-day decision bargaining period with UE Local 332, during which the company will consider any alternative proposals presented by the union. At the conclusion of the decision bargaining period, if GE Energy Management decides to move forward with the intended action, approximately 178 production and 20 salaried employees would be affected. Closure of the facility would occur no sooner than one year from the date of announced intent -- September 19, 2014.
"This hurts 200 families of GE employees and many more families in our community," said union President Scott Gates. "It will have a devastating effect on small businesses in our area, costing many more people their jobs, reducing local services, harming a lot of people."
As required by the national contract between UE and GE, the company is giving the union one year's notice of its intent to move work from Fort Edward. The union will request that the company negotiate over its decision, which the union has the right to demand under the contract.
"We will fight this with whatever it takes," said Scott Gates. "We will reach out to the community, to elected officials, to other unions, and we will fight to save these jobs. We have to fight this with all we've got – there are too many lives at stake."
Gates says the closing of the plant on Route 4 in Fort Edward would devastate the community.
"We need these jobs. We can't afford to lose them," he said. "There's not a lot of employment in Fort Edward and these are good jobs."
In a statement GE said, "This intent announcement is not a reflection of the Fort Edward workforce. This workforce has partnered with the business on initiatives to make us more competitive."
"We've got 70 years here," said Gates. "Doesn't that mean something? Apparently not to GE."
"The company said we are good workers, but apparently not enough," said fellow GE employee Angel Sardina.
GE tells us if the move goes through, they will help all 200 employees impacted explore job opportunities within GE. However, some of those employees aren't buying it.
"We were established here and we are union workers so I don't think that's an option. I think the objective here is to dissolve the union and replace with less paying jobs," said Sardina.