“Yesterday, GE [General Electric] formally rejected our request to extend the bargaining period an additional 30 days and it is now clear that the company had no intention to engage in serious bargaining to save the Fort Edward plant,” said a statement by United Electric, Radio and Machine Workers of America Local 332, the union representing almost 200 workers at the 75-year-old plant in Fort Edward, scheduled to close September of next year.
After GE’s initial announcement on Sept. 18, there had been a 60-day period for the union and company representatives to try and work out a deal. But this past Tuesday (Nov. 19), negotiations were officially over.
GE officials disputed the notion that they weren’t serious about negotiating in a statement to NBC News 10: “We have negotiated in good faith for 60 days and have taken the bargaining process extremely seriously.”
The company believes that it could save a lot of money by moving operations to Florida. The union presented a plan, including upgrades to some of the plant’s equipment and a concession of “early retirement” for at least 20 workers, in order to try and demonstrate that GE could match or exceed the savings projected by moving.
Just a week ago, the mood was generally optimistic that a deal would work out. “I think it was a positive meeting. They’ve got to run it by the higher-ups, discuss it, and they will get back to us on it,” said Bruce Klipple, UE’s president, to The Post-Star.
New York state Sen. Elizabeth Little (R-Glens Falls) sent a letter to GE president Jeffery Immelt requesting an extension for the negotiations, which was apparently rejected.