Citing “ongoing challenges in the power industry,” GE announced plans to close its manufacturing facility in Salem, Virginia, USA.
About 250 workers would lose their jobs at the plant, which designs and produces 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. The letter of intent to close the plant noted “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,” GE’s letter about the move said. “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.”
The plant opened in 1955, with more than 2200 employees. The plant employed about 3500 at its peak. During a celebration of the plant’s 60th anniversary in 2015, GE said the facility had 700 workers.
In December, GE Power announced that it plans to reduce its global headcount by approximately 12 000 positions, affecting both professional and production employees.
At that time, GE said the moves were driven by challenges in the power market worldwide. Traditional power markets including gas and coal had softened and volumes were down significantly in products and services driven by overcapacity, lower utilization, fewer outages, an increase in steam plant retirements and overall growth in renewables, the company said.