Union fears for Bucyrus GE plant’s future


By Andrew Carter - acarter@aimmediamidwest.com



BUCYRUS — Union officials representing workers at the GE Lighting plant in Bucyrus say they fear for the facility’s future.

East Cleveland-based GE Lighting — which is now owned by Savant Systems Inc., a smart home technology company based in Hyannis, Massachusetts — plans to cease production of its A-19 LED light bulb line at the Bucyrus plant in March, a move that could result in the permanent loss of 81 jobs at the plant. On Jan. 6, GE officials notified the affected workers, the union, and the State of Ohio that it plans to shut down that line.

IUE-CWA Local 84704 President Will Evans said Monday that the union was “completely blindsided” by the company’s announcement, which he said will result in the A-19 LED line being sent overseas to China.

Representatives of the union and GE-Savant met on Thursday, during which IUE-CWA officials offered to contact “an outside expert from Michigan State University to seek ways to improve efficiency, productivity, and profitability through a joint labor management review of all of the current work processes.”

“This plant has been in the community for over 60 years and we are proud to clock in here everyday to make light bulbs,” Will Evans, a GE-Savant employee and president of IUE-CWA Local 84704, said in a press release issued by the union. “We want to do everything we can to keep these good jobs in our community. GE-Savant says it wants to keep our jobs here — well let’s leave no stone unturned. We are asking that the company cooperate with a joint labor-management study to see what can be done to keep this work in the plant.

“We are concerned not just about these 80 jobs — we are worried that if this product line leaves, the whole plant could close, leaving over 200 people out on the street. We are proposing a cost share for the study between the union, the company, and the city.”

According to the press release, “Michigan State University’s School of Human Resources and Labor Relations has conducted dozens of successful studies with major U.S. corporations including General Motors, Kraft Foods, Nestle, Catholic Health Hospitals and Bridgestone Tires, and Coca-Cola.”

Jerry Carney, IUE-CWA GE and Aerospace Conference Board Chairman, said the union is waiting for a response from GE-Savant regarding the proposed management review of the Bucyrus plant.

Bucyrus Mayor Jeff Reser pointed out that the city would lose about $100,000 in general fund revenue annually if GE-Savant does indeed eliminate the 81 jobs at the local plant.

“It takes about $100,000 to fund a police officer or firefighter with salary, equipment, pension, and benefits,” Reser noted.

Reser said he’s offered his services to both the union and GE-Savant management in hopes of keeping the jobs and plant in Bucyrus.

“The city of Bucyrus needs these jobs,” Reser said Friday. “The line in question is the LED production line and we know that LED is the future of lighting so I would be very worried about the long term prospects for our local GE Lighting plant if we lose the LED line. I am hopeful that management and labor will come together to find a way to keep the workers employed in Bucyrus for a long time.

“We have a long history of providing an exceptional workforce and those workers have tremendous pride in their plant and heritage. The GE name means quality around the globe and Bucyrus is proud to have been a part of manufacturing GE quality products for decades and we hope and pray that it continues.”

In hopes of garnering public support, the union has set up an online petition and is distributing buttons and signs to its backers in Crawford County.

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By Andrew Carter

acarter@aimmediamidwest.com

Follow @GalionInquirer on Twitter.

Follow @GalionInquirer on Twitter.