Bloomington GE workers protest job cuts
Plant once employed 3,300; will only employ 360
Last Updated: 67 days ago
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - By the end of October, 160 workers at Bloomington's General Electric refrigerator plant will be out of jobs, and dozens of workers were outside the plant Saturday protesting the company's decision.
GE recently said it was pulling $161 million earmarked for the Bloomington facility, which makes side-by-side refrigerators. Now, the company says it's cutting one-third of the factory's jobs because of a 30 percent drop in sales since 2010.
"It comes after a failed commitment from the company to create over 200 new jobs. We're not seeing that, and the investment never came," said Carven Thomas, president of IBEW Local 2249. "That would have meant a totally redesigned plant. A redesigned new product that would have competed in the market, and we feel we could have regained market share back."
The Bloomington plant was slated to close in 2010 before GE invested $93 million to produce side-by-side refrigerators.
At one time, more than 3,300 people worked at the plant. By the end of October, only 360 will be left.
"There's no future here," said 29-year employee Bill Fairbairn. "With 75 percent of your refrigerators being built in Mexico, this plant is underutilized. When it's an underutilized plant, General Electric moves it out. This plant cannot sustain itself here."
Beyond the enormous job losses over the years, the fear is that these newest job cuts are the beginning of the end for the plant.
GE says 35 percent of the reductions will come from workers taking early retirement.The other roughly 100 jobs will be eliminated through layoffs.
Union leadership, while not ruling out a strike, plans to continue negotiating with GE in the hope of saving more jobs.
Copyright 2013 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.