Up to 200 white-collar workers at General Electric in Schenectady will be laid off by the end of this year, GE officials said Tuesday.
The company is reducing its entire Power & Water Division by 2 percent, spokeswoman Chris Horne said. It must be done to keep the company competitive, she added.
“In order to retain our competitiveness in this challenging, dynamic industry, we’re looking at ways to reduce cost across the global Power & Water business,” she said.
But it appears the cut in Schenectady will be much larger than 2 percent, which would be about 80 people. Horne said Schenectady would lose less than 200 employees.
The company moved the headquarters of Power & Water to Schenectady last year and reported then that it cut “a layer” of management to become more efficient.
Horne stressed that GE is not cutting its hourly manufacturing employees, who work on wages to build steam turbines, generators and batteries.
“Our manufacturing operations have been continually growing since 2011,” she said. “The actions we’re talking about here do not impact hourly production staff.”
Last week, GE announced its intent to close its Fort Edward manufacturing plant, but not the one in Schenectady, and move operations to Florida because Fort Edward wasn’t competitive.
When Horne made that announcement, she noted that GE had increased hiring throughout the Capital Region, including at Schenectady’s plant.
She defended that statement Tuesday, saying she had been referring to manufacturing jobs.
Schenectady GE workers have been receiving layoff notices all week as the company slowly notifies those who will be cut. Not everyone has been told yet.
Horne said GE will try to find those employees jobs elsewhere at the company. The layoffs will take place between now and the end of the year, she said, and GE will offer severance and employment assistance.
The move surprised Metroplex Development Authority Chairman Ray Gillen. He knew about the Fort Edward closing before it was announced to the public, but he hadn’t been told about the layoffs in Schenectady.
He noted that the company recently beat out Siemens, a competitor for steam turbines and generators, for a major contract with Algeria, and Siemens announced job cuts soon after.
Gillen said GE likely had to make cuts as well simply to keep prices low enough to win contracts. “The interesting thing is manufacturing is not being touched,” he said.