Machinist Op-Ed Slams GE Closure of Waukesha Engine Plant

In an Op-Ed published in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, IAM International President Tom Buffenbarger slammed General Electric’s decision to stop manufacturing gas engines in Wisconsin. Stopping production will eliminate 350 skilled IAM jobs and threaten the well-being of the Milwaukee suburb of Waukesha.

“It’s difficult to find the right words to describe General Electric’s hypocrisy in declaring that the 100-year-old Waukesha engine plant will be sacrificed due to Congress’s failure to reauthorize funding for the U.S. Export-Import Bank,” declared Buffenbarger.

“It would be just as hard, if not impossible, to find another large U.S. corporation that has moved as many good-paying U.S. manufacturing jobs out of this country than General Electric. If there is a poster child for the offshore outsourcing that has gutted the U.S. manufacturing sector over the past two decades, it is GE.”

Buffenbarger noted that while GE blames the shuttering of the EX-IM Bank for the latest round of layoffs, shipping American jobs overseas has been a long-standing corporate policy.

“In the last decade alone, GE has steadily gutted its U.S. workforce by more than 17%, while increasing the number of workers employed abroad by nearly 20%. The rationale is always the same: global competition, lower costs, overseas sales opportunities. At no time has GE ever blamed or credited U.S. export subsidies for any such decisions,” said Buffenbarger.

GE has also long ignored the dedication of its U.S. workforce and the destruction of American communities when jobs are offshored.

“The targeting of Waukesha’s engine facility is especially galling, given the high marks workers there routinely garnered for their productivity, pride and loyalty,” said Buffenbarger. “It was diesel-powered emergency generators built by workers at Waukesha that kept the lights on in the World Trade Center long after terrorists crashed planes into both towers.

“From the days of Jack Welch, to the reign of current CEO Jeffery Immelt, GE has boasted about its ‘take no prisoners’ management style and its willingness to sacrifice whatever is necessary to achieve objectives” Buffenbarger concluded. “In GE’s current effort to blame Congress for its decision to close Waukesha, we are seeing the ugliest and most dishonest side of that philosophy in full view.”

Click here to read the full Op-Ed.