G.E. Expanding Domestic Production, with Unions’ Assistance

And now, a word of praise for the labor unions…and G.E., of course.

From The New York Times, “G.E. to Add Two New U.S. Plants as Unions Agree on Cost Control,reporting on General Electric’s plans to expand domestic manufacturing operations:

G.E. is building a 350-employee plant in Schenectady, N.Y., to make high-density batteries that will turn many locomotives into diesel-electric hybrids. And in Louisville, Ky., it is adding a factory that will employ 420 workers to produce hybrid electric water heaters — heaters now made in China.

The two moves by G.E., often accused of being too quick to close plants and move operations overseas, came only after its unions agreed to keep costs down by swallowing painful concessions, including a two-tier wage structure.

Jeffrey R. Immelt, G.E.’s chief executive, said the two new operations are part of his campaign to get corporate America to strengthen and expand manufacturing in the United States.

Times reporter Steven Greenhouse interviews Immelt, who makes many compelling points, including: “Labor sees the need to be more competitive than in decades past. After everything that happened in Detroit, it points to more alignment between management and labor. My sense is this is a different day.”

Indeed, International Union of Electrical Workers-Communications Workers of America voted to accept a two-year wage freeze and a lower wage tier for new employees, with G.E. agreeing to not to move operations for two years.

Albany Business-Review, “Union vote, incentives bring battery plant to Schenectady
Albany Times-Union, “Schenectady wins battery battle
WTEN-10 News, “GE’s new battery plant coming to Schenectady
WTEN-10 News, “A salt-powered battery — what’s that?

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