Kaine urges GE to reconsider closing Salem plant, save more than 200 jobs

The company announced the plant closure in early June

SALEM, Va. – Senator Tim Kaine wrote a letter to General Electric officials on Thursday in response to the manufacturing plant closure in Salem. 

Kaine wrote to John Flannery, GE Chairman and CEO, urging him to reconsider the closure and save the 265 jobs that will be lost. 

“The high-quality American manufacturing work of the employees in Salem is a testament to a highly skilled, highly motivated workforce in the Roanoke Valley," said Kaine. "The loss of more than 250 positions due to GE’s decision, I believe, would be a dramatic misstep.”

GE released the following statement on the closure in early June

If GE makes a final decision to go forward with this transfer of work, GE would continue to have a presence in the Salem community, employing more than 200 professionals across our Power, Renewable Energy and Baker Hughes businesses.

This action is difficult and does not reflect the performance, dedication, and hard work of our employees. If the site is closed, impacted employees, nearly half of whom are eligible for retirement, would be provided with a comprehensive severance package, including transition support to new employment.

GE was one of the area's largest employers and has been in the community since 1955. 

Problems for the company started when revenue dropped 7 percent in the first quarter of 2018 and continued when the company announced in March that it would permanently lay off 42 employees due to a significant decline in orders. 

Prior to the March layoffs, about 570 people worked at the plant. At its peak, the plant employed 3,500 people, according to Mike Stevens, communications director for Salem. 

GE’s facility in Salem designed and produced control systems and integrated circuit boards for gas and steam generators, pitch systems for wind turbine blade controls, starters for gas turbines and down-tower assembly for wind power conversion systems. 

About the Author:

Samantha Smith joined WSLS 10’s award-winning digital team as a content producer in July 2018.