Bloomington Union President Says GE Has Broken Contract

The president of a local union says the company has not created 200 jobs it promised in 2010.

ge

Photo: Ashley Lee

GE is laying off 160 employees. Officials say it is because of a 30 percent decline in demand for side-by-side refrigerators.

The president of a local union says General Electric has not made good on many of its promises dating back to 2009.

GE officials announced this week plans to lay off 160 employees from its Bloomington plant. The GE plant had been slated for closure in 2010 but the union and the company negotiated a deal where union workers would take less money and the company would invest in making new side-by-side refrigerators. The company also promised to invest $93 million and create 200 jobs so the site could specialize in side-by-side refrigerators.

“We’re going to take input from the design, production, from the hourly and salary workforce to get the best idea that we can before we design the product, and that we layout the product out in our factory in the most efficient way that we can to make it cost effective,” plant manager Dave Perry told WFIU/WTIU News in a 2010 interview.

But Carven Thomas, president of the Union IBEW Local 2249 says GE did not keep its part of the deal and continued to make the same the product.

“The company, they want to act like this all happened in a vacuum but if you have a product out there and you have your rivals adding new features and marketing their product and doing different things to take share of the market and you’re not doing that,” Thomas says. “In fact, you’re continuing to make changes and upgrades to your Mexican product it hurts.”

In a statement, GE said demand for its side-by-side refrigerators has fallen by more than 30 percent since its investment decision.

“We are the last manufacturer still producing side-by-side refrigerators in the U.S. for the mass market which tells you how incredibly competitive the side-by-side product category is today,” Bloomington Plant Operations manager Frank Scheffel said in a statement.

“The company, they want to act like this all happened in a vacuum but if you have a product out there and you have your rivals adding new features and marketing their product and doing different things to take share of the market and you’re not doing that,” Thomas says. “In fact, you’re continuing to make changes and upgrades to your Mexican product it hurts,” says Thomas.

Thomas says the company is selling side by side refrigerators, just not those manufactured at the Bloomington plant.  Thomas says the union is hoping to negotiate with GE so Bloomington employees don’t lose their jobs.

Emily Wright

Emily, an Indianapolis native, joined WFIU/WTIU in 2013 as Producer of Noon Edition. She studied Telecommunications and Liberal Arts Management at Indiana University.

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