DAYTON, OH – Today, IUE-CWA, the nation’s largest union for General Electric workers, condemned the new announcement from GE Lighting, a Savant Company, confirming it will discontinue the last American-made residential light bulbs by permanently closing its Bucyrus plant and laying off over 200 Ohio workers. The closure comes just two years after General Electric spun off its lighting business to GE Lighting, in the spring of 2020. IUE-CWA is raising the alarm that GE stakeholders should be prepared for more cuts like this if the company moves forward with its $2.5 billion plan to break itself up, instead of investing in its domestic workforce.
“GE’s current plan to break what’s left of itself up into three new businesses fails to provide any guarantees that the company will protect the jobs of the workers that have built this company from the ground up and have sustained communities like Bucyrus for decades,” said IUE-CWA President Carl Kennebrew. “All those invested in the company’s success should take notice of this plant closure and what it means for GE’s future. Spinoffs, buybacks, and marketing gimmicks won’t lead to long-term value and growth at GE, as executives have promised. Investment in the workers and communities that built the company into an American icon and ultimately have the most at stake regarding the long-term success and viability of GE, will.”
In 1989, GE employed 277,000 people in the U.S. In 2021, GE employed just 55,000 workers nationwide, down from 70,000 in 2019. IUE-CWA is deeply concerned by GE’s decades-long practice of spinning off divisions, offshoring work, slashing domestic jobs, and weakening strategic American industries, while continuing to profit from its all-American brand name that U.S. workers built.
“American companies that take in billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars every year have a responsibility to protect American jobs and invest in our domestic supply chain,” Kennebrew added. “As the nation’s largest union for GE workers, IUE-CWA is demanding that as part of its split, GE make an ironclad commitment to invest in and expand its U.S. workforce vital to the company’s long term success, and provide assurances regarding the job security, pay, and benefits of its workers.”
GE is planning to break-up into three companies, with GE HealthCare to be spun-off in 2023 and GE Vernova (Power and Renewables) in 2024, leaving a renamed GE Aerospace in control of the precious trademark – providing long term licenses to the spun off companies. Financial experts forecast that restructuring will continue, as private equity buyers will rapidly carve up GE after the initial split.
IUE-CWA is pushing GE to make a clear public commitment to reinvest in its domestic workforce and facilities to ensure the long-term success of the company, and provide certainty to its workforce in each of the three resulting divisions.
“GE Lighting workers losing their jobs have been betrayed by the company they served for generations. American-made GE light bulbs will now be extinct as executives offshore these jobs to increase their profit margins at the expense of good U.S. jobs. With this further weakening of America’s electrical supply chain, now the only American thing about these light bulbs will be the GE name on the label that the company still profits from today. We hold GE responsible for the destruction of these jobs and America’s lighting industry,” President Kennebrew added.
In 2020, GE sold its lighting business to Savant Systems, which previously received $90 million from leading global investors. In 2021, GE Lighting moved the A-19 LED light bulb product line overseas and permanently laid off approximately 70 workers. GE is using a similar playbook once again to divide itself into three separate, public divisions.
A strong manufacturing sector is critical to maintaining our nation’s economic competitiveness. Right now, more than 687,000 Ohioans work in manufacturing jobs. That represents one in every eight jobs performed in the state, generating one out of every 6 dollars.
IUE-CWA’s national Bring It Home GE campaign has announced a set of four unified demands for the company. GE workers are calling for the company to:
- Invest at least $5 billion over the next 5 years and add 35,000 jobs to existing and recently shuttered U.S. facilities;
- Reshore all U.S. military aviation production and 70% of GE industrial work offshored over the past 5 years;
- Let shareholders vote on the proposed breakup of GE and add elected worker representatives to the GE Board of Directors;
- Convert historic GE facilities into multi-modal brilliant factories with supplier parks to minimize supply chain disruptions, building an American offshore wind supply chain on our shores.