General Electric to close Salem manufacturing plant, eliminating 265 jobs

42% are eligible to retire

By Rachel Lucas - Anchor / Reporter, Heather Butterworth - Digital Content Producer, Shayne Dwyer - Reporter

SALEM, Va. - General Electric is closing its manufacturing plant in Salem, the company announced Friday morning. 

Of the 265 employees who will lose their jobs, 42 percent are eligible for retirement. They will receive severance packages. 

Other GE locations or supplier partners will take care of the work the plant handled. 

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

Revenue for the power business dropped 7 percent in the first quarter of 2018 when compared with last year. 

The company announced back in March that it would permanently lay off 42 employees, citing a significant decline in orders. 

If requested by the local union in accordance with the collective bargaining agreement, GE will engage in a 60-day decision bargaining period regarding the intended closure, said a GE spokesman.

Furthermore, if GE makes a final decision to go forward with this transfer of work, it would likely take place over the course of the next 12-24 months.

This is the letter GE gave to the union at 9:30 this morning. The employees were then told at 10 a.m. and given the rest of today off with pay.

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. 

Here is the statement from GE: 

Based on the ongoing challenges in the power industry and a significant decline in orders at this facility, we have announced our intent to close our manufacturing facility in Salem, VA, and move the remaining work to other GE locations or to supplier partners.  If requested by the local union, in accordance with the collective bargaining agreement, GE will engage in a 60-day decision bargaining period with the union regarding the intended closure.  

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.

Statements from Salem officials:

Salem Mayor Randy Foley:

“The GE plant and its workers have been integral parts of Salem’s fabric for more than 60 years. When the plant employed over 3,000 back in its heyday, it seemed like everyone you knew had a family member who was working there, and many of them were actively involved in the community and their respective neighborhoods. Sadly, industrial plants across the state and the country have been through tough times in recent years. I think we always knew this was a possibility, especially since GE has been reducing its workforce worldwide in past years.”

City Manager Kevin Boggess:

“I am both surprised and saddened to learn that the GE plant is potentially closing at the end of the year. Right now, our thoughts are with the workers and families who could be displaced in the coming months. GE truly has been a Salem institution for decades, and we hope that many of these individuals can find new employment elsewhere in the valley. Financially, the impact on the city will not be nearly as significant as it would have been 20 or 30 years ago, because the plant’s production has been greatly reduced in recent years.”

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