Recently, billboards have gone up that seem to be expressing frustration with the news that the General Electric plant in Salem closing.
There are two in Roanoke and there will be two up in Salem by the end of December.
Local GE Union President Vicky Hurley says the point of the billboards is to make sure the community knows that when the plant closes, more than 200 people in the Roanoke Valley will lose their jobs.
“We didn’t think that it was quite fair that we would lose our jobs and CEOs of GE is up there making millions of dollars and we’re losing our jobs to places like India and China,” said Hurley.
“Nobody punishes them when they make bad decisions or run our businesses in the ground.”
Hurley says some of the employees wanted people to hear their voice, and that’s what the billboards help to do.
A GE spokesperson tells WFXR News, they have a facility in India that can increase production if necessary, but he says jobs aren’t moving there.
“They’re expanding it and taking the work that we do here and putting it over there,” said Hurley.
“So any spin that they put on it, it’s still that the work that we do here is going to be done in India and China.”
Hurley says they have a lot of space at the plant in Salem, but they want to choose to close it instead.
In a statement, A GE spokesperson said:
“GE Power concluded the 60-day decision bargaining period with the union to review alternative cost saving opportunities. Unfortunately, the alternative proposals could not meet the savings
needed to offset the decline in volume at the Salem plant, requiring us to move forward with the plant closing over the next 12-24 months.
GE will 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. We remain committed to work with the union to support impacted employees, nearly half of whom are eligible for retirement. All impacted employees will be provided with a comprehensive severance package, including transition support to new employment.”
– GE spokesperson
Because of the Union Contract, GE had to give 12 months notice that they were closing. Those 12 months are over in June and the plant will close sometime after that.
The union representative says there is always hope the GE would change their mind and keep the plant open, but there is no evidence that that will happen.