GE workers stay positive after plant closure announcement

General Electric, GE logo
AP Photo/Paul Sakuma

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) — Workers at GE Appliances in Bloomington are staying positive after the company announced its decision to close the facility and eliminate 329 jobs.

The Bloomington Herald-Times (http://bit.ly/1Qc0Dni ) reports that a final decision will not be made until after a 60-day period in which the union may discuss alternatives to the closure of the plant.

William Fairbairn, president and business manager of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 2249, said that the response from workers has been mostly positive. Fairbairn said workers just want the closing process to be done the way it was explained to them.

Closing packages have been offered to employees.

Local officials said GE was one of the companies that helped kick-start the Westside Economic Development Area.

The Monroe County redevelopment commission said it started preparing for GE to pull out of the area years ago.

Commission member Barry Lessow said those preparations began after a round of layoffs at the plant that reduced the workforce by 1,000 workers. He said the commission wanted to be ready for the worst-case scenario.

Commission member Jim Shelton said that even though the plant closure is not crippling, it is significant.

The commission had worked with local government entities to provide incentives to have GE remain in Bloomington. The commission contributed employee training to invest in and improve the skills of the plant’s employees.

“We wanted to see GE stay here and return to the employment level they had before,” Lessow said.

According to officials, the tax increment finance district revenue should continue to grow despite the facility’s closure.

County Public Works Director Lisa Ridge said the current cash balance for the TIF district as of June 10 was about $6.26 million.

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