Schenectady County

GE to cut 500 US production jobs

General Electric blamed Congress in announcing Tuesday that it will will move about 500 U.S. jobs ov
The GE plant is seen in Schenectady.
The GE plant is seen in Schenectady.

General Electric blamed Congress in announcing Tuesday that it will move about 500 U.S. jobs overseas.

Specifically, GE blamed Congress’ failure to reauthorize the U.S. Export Import Bank, which expired July 1, for the loss of U.S. jobs. Many of those jobs are in Schenectady, though figures were not made available by GE.

“While our preference is to continue producing power generation equipment in our best U.S. factories, without customer access to the U.S. Ex-Im bank, we have no choice but to move our work to places that will offer export credit financing of these projects,” Jeff Connelly, vice president of supply chain for GE Power & Water, said in a news release. GE Power & Water is headquartered in Schenectady.

GE has received a line of credit from a French export credit agency, COFACE, for potential power deals that will result in the move of more than 400 jobs from the U.S. — in Schenectady, South Carolina and Maine — to Belfort, France, which will become a Center of Excellence for 50 hertz heavy duty gas turbines, the company said.

“This was work that we would have done here in the U.S, but because we didn’t have the U.S. Ex-Im Bank, we couldn’t even put that on our bid,” said Katie Jackson, a GE Power & Water spokeswoman.

The bid proposals cannot be changed to move the jobs back to the United States, even if Congress were to reauthorize the Export Import Bank, she said. “The bid locks you in.”

She added, “If we do get this deal, this work will go to France, and this will be work that could have been done in the U.S.”

Because the contracts have not yet been awarded, Jackson said, job losses specific to Schenectady are not known.

“The work we do here in Schenectady is extremely valuable, and we just don’t know right now,” she said.

Another 100 jobs for the final assembly of global aeroderivatives would be moved from Texas to Hungary and China to meet customer funding needs related toexport financing, the company said.

GE is currently bidding on $11 billion worth of projects that require export financing, the company said in a news release.

GE customers often require guaranteed financing from an export credit agency before submitting a bid, and with no U.S. export financing available, GE was forced to pursue non-U.S. options, the company said.

GE said many export credit agencies require that production and jobs be invested in-country to qualify for financing. The U.S. Ex-Im Bank requires the same. That could eventually mean a loss of thousands of U.S. jobs at GE and its hundreds of suppliers — small- and medium-sized companies that can’t partner with foreign export credit agencies. Those include Capital Region companies.

“GE is a major company within the community here, and we support a very large supply chain,” Jackson said.

Last year, a key group of Republicans came out against the U.S. Ex-Im Bank, calling it corporate welfare that favors special interests and interferes with the free market. Supporters of the bank say it lets American businesses compete with international businesses, which have access to the same attractive financing from nearly 60 other export credit agencies worldwide.

“Let me be clear: the sole reason this work cannot be performed in Schenectady is that House Republicans have failed to renew the Export-Import Bank,” U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko, D-Amsterdam, said in a statement. “This is the biggest blow to our community, which has enjoyed the success and prosperity of an apolitical partnership between the private and public sectors for decades, in a very long time.”

In a joint statement, Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy and Anthony Jasenski, chairman of the Schenectady County Legislature, blamed Congressional leaders “in other states.”

“Today’s announcement by GE is a wake-up call to Congress to get busy and reauthorize the Export-Import Bank before more jobs are lost. We do not blame GE for this action,” they said. “Instead we blame Congressional leaders in other states that fail to recognize the critical role that the Export-Import Bank plays in creating and sustaining jobs in places like Schenectady.”

General Electric employs 7,000 in the Capital Region, including about 4,000 in Schenectady.

Categories: Business

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