SCHENECTADY — General Electric said Friday it will eliminate 75 support jobs at its Niskayuna research headquarters and seek to cut up to 45 jobs at its turbine and generator factory in Schenectady.
In both cases, the global economic turmoil now facing the international conglomerate underlay the job cuts, as do its pre-exisiting financial problems, but the specific circumstances are different in the two locations.
In Niskayuna, the cuts are being made because so much of the GE Research staff is working remotely, and that is likely to continue for some time. With fewer people on-site to support, there's less need for support staff. The 75 jobs will be eliminated in the coming weeks.
In Schenectady, the cuts are sought because General Electric plans to do more production work of steam turbines and generators at two underutilized factories in Europe, so that the manufacturing is physically closer to customers. If the company makes that shift, it would require fewer workers in Schenectady and in Bangor, Maine, where up to 22 GE Power jobs may be eliminated.
The company does not plan to hire additional workers at the factories in Poland and Switzerland, meaning it could net a savings on personnel costs.
The job cuts are in Bangor and Schenectady are subject to a 60-day bargaining period, and if implemented would not take effect until 2021.
IUE-CWA Local 301 in Schenectady represents some of the GE Research workers who will lose their jobs in Niskayuna and all of the GE Power workers who may lose their jobs in Schenectady. The union local’s top officers did not return requests for comment for this story.
A GE spokesperson offered a prepared statement Friday:
“In light of unprecedented economic challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and our continued efforts to strengthen GE’s long-term future, today we announced job actions that would impact employees in Schenectady and Niskayuna. While the Schenectady proposal is subject to union review, these actions are only being taken after exhausting numerous other steps and are in no way a reflection of the commitment and hard work of our employees.”
In recent years, the company born in Schenectady in 1892 has been mired in financial problems and been rocked by plummeting stock prices. Extensive turnaround efforts including facility closures, business selloffs and staff reductions had begun to show sustained progress in 2019 and early 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic has set it right back into crisis mode, with major disruptions to its supply chain and the market demand for its products.
It’s the latest in a long series of job reductions for GE in Schenectady County, where it once had tens of thousands of employees.
The company has stopped disclosing how many employees it has in Niskayuna and Schenectady. In 2019 it said there were more than 4,000 in the Capital Region, which would encompass the large Schenectady and Niskayuna facilities plus a small medical imaging factory in North Greenbush.