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GE to cut some local salaried positions

GE to cut some local salaried positions

GE to cut some local salaried positions
The General Electric campus in Schenectady in 2015.
Photographer: Peter R. Barber

SCHENECTADY—General Electric is cutting jobs at its Schenectady-Rotterdam campus.

A company spokeswoman said Friday the number is “very small” but would not be more specific. She also would not specify the job titles of those affected, but emphasized they are not production jobs. 

Scott Fernandez, president of IUE-CWA Local 301, which represents many GE production workers in Schenectady, had no comment Friday, saying the job cuts did not affect any members of his union, only salaried employees.

Also Friday, a spokesman said GE Global Research’s Niskayuna headquarters was not affected by the cuts.

Schenectady-based GE Power also cut an unspecified number of jobs at its Greenville, S.C., plant. There too, the spokeswoman said, no manufacturing jobs were eliminated.

She gave the following statement Friday, referencing the company’s 2015 acquisition of a French company’s power generation and transmission business:

“Based on the current challenges in the power market and the integration of GE and legacy Alstom, GE Power continues to transform the business to support our growth strategy and meet the needs of our customers. As a result, we made the very difficult decision to simplify our structure. We’re committed to working with our employees during this transition.”

The move comes amid pressure from an activist investor for the company to boost its profits and the value of its stock. Some analysts speculate that the job of longtime CEO Jeffrey Immelt could be at risk. 

GE officials met with the investor’s company and promised Wednesday to reduce costs by $1 billion a year in both 2017 and 2018, and tie executive bonuses to those goals and profits.

Earlier this month, GE Power President and CEO Steve Bolze told investors that GE Power has a healthy profit margin and and $85 billion backlog. He also said he’d be turning more of his attention to the task of increasing value, specifically by reducing costs and increasing cash flow.

The job cuts at the Schenectady/Rotterdam campus are the latest in a recent string of cutbacks by GE across the Capital Region, where it has more than 6,000 workers:

—Researchers lost their jobs at GE Global Research in Niskayuna in January. The company confirmed Jan. 31 that there were job reductions but would not quantify them; reports from the people affected indicated as many as 150 employees would be terminated.

—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.

— On Nov. 30, the company announced 27 employees at a small fuel cell production site in Malta, roughly two-thirds of the staff there, would lose their jobs.

—In 2015, GE said it would move 500 generator and turbine production jobs out of the United States, mostly to Europe, because it could no longer secure financing for export orders through the U.S. Export-Import Bank, a target of conservatives. It said some would be from New York but did not say how many.

The company was born in Schenectady 125 years ago but has grown into a massive conglomerate with more than 100,000 employees in the United States and twice as many elsewhere. In recent decades it has shrunk its presence greatly in the Capital Region and nearby areas.

It sold its Plastics division, with a plant in Selkirk, and sold its Silicones division, with a plant in Waterford. The capacitor plant in Fort Edward is permanently shut down. Massive operations that employed tens of thousands of workers for generations in Utica and Pittsfield are long gone.

And the plant at the foot of Erie Boulevard in Schenectady, a small city unto itself with 40,000-plus workers at its height in the 1940s, has a small fraction of that number now.

But the company continues to evolve, creating some jobs as it cuts others:

—It created four new labs at the Niskayuna facility with 100 new jobs in 2016. 

—It started a new production line for high-tech batteries in Schenectady in 2012 and created 400 jobs there, then moved most of them to other production work on the Schenectady campus when it halted battery production on 2015.

—GE built a cutting-edge factory in 2009 to produce medical imaging equipment in North Greenbush. The 230,000-square-foot plant now employs 150 people working in three shifts.

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