GE Water & Power says it will stop manufacturing gas engines in Wisconsin, eliminating 350 skilled IAM jobs and throwing the Milwaukee suburb of Waukesha, WI into turmoil.
“Our members at GE Power & Water have provided a skilled and efficient workforce to manufacture world-class gas engine products for decades,” said District 10 Directing Business Representative Alex Hoekstra. “This is a devastating blow to our members, their families and the community.”
GE claims the closing of the facility is directly related to the export financing lapse of the U.S. Export-Import Bank, which Republicans in Congress refused to renew financing for because they see it as corporate welfare. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), who opposes the bank, declined to offer sympathy for the workers, saying Congress should “focus on fixing our tax code and reducing burdensome regulations.”
“While the renewal of the U.S. Export Import Bank is at the center of the Wisconsin job loss, let’s not miss GE’s position,” said IAM Midwest Territory General Vice President Phil Gruber. “GE is willing to sacrifice American workers for even greater financial gain.”
The IAM plans to engage in discussions with the company in hopes of identifying alternatives to the elimination of jobs. The current collective bargaining agreement is set to expire on May 1, 2016.