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What you need to know for 11/20/2017

GE Global Research cutting jobs in Niskayuna

GE Global Research cutting jobs in Niskayuna

Company refuses to detail cuts
GE Global Research cutting jobs in Niskayuna
General Electric Global Research campus on River Road.
Photographer: PETER R. BARBER

NISKAYUNA — General Electric is reducing the workforce at its Global Research campus on River Road.

Todd Alhart, a Niskayuna-based spokesman for Global Research, confirmed Tuesday that layoffs are underway but would not specify the number of affected employees or their job descriptions.

A source outside GE whose friend is among the employees affected by the cuts said about 150 people are being let go, mostly chemical researchers.

A source within GE said the affected employees work not only in Niskayuna, which is the headquarters for Global Research, but at Global Research facilities elsewhere.

Alhart noted that General Electric is a company in transition.

“With GE’s transformation to a digital industrial company, we are evolving our research skill set to meet the needs of our customers and industries,” he said via email in response to questions. “We are limiting research that is not central to GE’s strategy and investing in key areas such as artificial intelligence, robotics and machine learning.

“These changes are taking place across our Global Research centers. This shift is essential to keeping GE at the forefront of innovation and manufacturing into the future.”

Alhart said as it continues its transition, General Electric is a different company than it was even two years ago. He noted that four new labs had been created in Niskayuna in 2016, resulting in the addition of 100 jobs, as part of this transition.

Those were the Product Breakout Lab, the Product Management Science Lab and the Variable Cost Productivity Lab — all of which are intended to move products through the development pipeline more quickly — and the Edge Lab, which looks at new areas of robotics and artificial Intelligence.

General Electric has announced a series of Capital Region job cuts in recent weeks through Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification reports to the state Department of Labor:

  • On Jan. 27, GE reported that 75 employees of its tax division in Albany engaged in tax work would be cut, though media reports indicated the workers would move to another company.
  • On Jan. 12, GE reported that 41 employees of Current Powered by GE in Schenectady would lose their jobs.
  • On Dec. 16, GE reported that 41 workers who assemble locomotive turbochargers for GE Transportation in Latham would lose their jobs.

One other cutback — 27 employees at a small fuel cell production site in Malta, accounting for roughly two-thirds of the staff there — was announced by the company Nov. 30 but was not the subject of a WARN notice to the state.

A state Department of Labor spokesman said no WARN notice had been submitted for workers losing their jobs at Global Research. The source within General Electric said a WARN notice was not required due to the circumstances of the job cuts involved.

The state’s WARN Act requires businesses to give advanced warning of large-scale layoffs to affected employees, their representatives if they are unionized, the state Department of Labor and the Local Workforce Investment Board. Some layoffs can be excluded from this requirement due to the number of people involved.

A WARN notice allows the DOL and LWIB to work with the business and employees early on to get workers the assistance they are entitled to while unemployed and any help they need to find new jobs. This can benefit the company, as well, because when unemployed workers find new jobs more quickly, their former employer’s cost for unemployment insurance may be reduced.

Joe Landry, the Niskayuna town supervisor, and Ray Gillen, leader of economic development in Schenectady County, both said Tuesday that they had been given no details about the job cuts at Global Research.

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