GE cuts Schenectady workforce again

Schenectady Gazette

General Electric continued a yearlong series of workforce reductions at its Schenectady-Rotterdam campus with a new round of job cuts announced Friday.

Three sources at GE put the number of affected workers at 130, significantly more than in recent previous cutbacks. The company would not say how many people will be affected but said both professional and production workers would be laid off. This is a change from reductions made last year. In each of the 2017 layoffs, the company stressed no production workers were losing their jobs.

GE issued the following statement Friday:

“As announced last month, based on the current challenges in the power industry and a significant decline in orders, we plan to reduce our global headcount, affecting both professional and production employees. As part of these actions, we are restructuring our production capacity in Schenectady. This action is difficult and does not reflect the performance, dedication and hard work of our employees. GE will be providing a comprehensive severance package to impacted employees, including transition support to new employment.”

Many of the production workers in Schenectady are represented by IUE-CWA Local 301. Its business agent, Rob Macherone, issued this statement Friday:

“We are extremely disappointed by GE’s recent announcement to lay off up to 130 of our hourly union members. This will be devastating to both the members and their families impacted, as well as the community. It is disheartening that, despite our members’ hard work and dedication, they have to pay such a steep price for GE’s mismanagement while the ones responsible, such as [former GE CEO Jeff] Immelt are rewarded with lucrative severance packages. Our main focus right now is on supporting our members affected and continuing our efforts to preserve middle-class jobs.”

The most recent previous round of publicly confirmed cuts in Schenectady came on Nov. 30. A source within the company put the number laid off during that round at 75, though GE would not confirm that figure.

The firm did say approximately 4,000 people worked on the sprawling campus at the foot of Erie Boulevard. Those employees are a mix of professional, managerial and production workers from a variety of General Electric businesses, but the majority of them work for GE Power, which has its headquarters there.

The company has been struggling for years to increase profitability and reverse a long slide in stock value. The tempo and urgency of GE’s efforts have increased in recent months, with the arrival of a new CEO, John Flannery.

Flannery in November singled out Power as one of the three core businesses that General Electric would stake its future on, along with Aviation and Healthcare. But he also singled out Power as having deep financial troubles and said it would need to cut $1 billion in costs. GE Power announced last month that it would reduce its workforce by 12,000 worldwide.

Some other local GE workforce reductions in 2017:

  • In September, a source within GE said 15 to 25 low-level management employees were laid off. The company would say only that a “small number” of jobs were eliminated.
  • In March, a “very small number” of jobs were cut, the company said, but again it would not specify the cuts.
  • The most clearly defined round of Schenectady job cuts came in January, when another GE business — Current Powered by GE — reported 35 layoffs to the state Department of Labor, as required by the state’s Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification process. The other GE layoffs in Schenectady apparently did not meet the requirements of mandatory WARN reporting.

No WARN notice has been posted yet for the cuts announced Friday.

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