Dozens of Fort Edward GE employees whose jobs are on the line made their way to Rutland, Vermont to protest before GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt. Immelt was in the Green Mountain State talking about GE's role in Rutland. As YNN's Erin Moran reports, for many, this protest is a final push to keep GE in Fort Edward and out of Clearwater, Florida.
RUTLAND, Vt. -- Calling it the fight of their lives, more than two dozen GE workers from Fort Edward made a surprise visit to GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt Wednesday evening.
“We wanted to see if we could get five minutes with Mr. Immelt and have a discussion with him, but I guess he's not interested in talking to us. So we want him to hear that we're out here and we're concerned about our jobs and we're serious about saving them,” said Scott Gates, President of Union Electrical Local 332, which represents nearly 200 GE employees whose jobs are on the line in Fort Edward.
Immelt was in Rutland, Vermont Wednesday night for an event. He was not available to comment on proceedings or the protest outside the Paramount Theater.
GE has an aviation plant in Rutland and is the largest employer in the area, according to the Rutland Region Chamber of Commerce website.
As GE continues negotiations with Local 332 on the future of the Fort Edward plant, union officials are begging GE to consider what will happen to the 200 Washington County families that will suffer if the plant shuts down.
“There's a lot of husbands and wives, boyfriends and girlfriends, double incomes, people with children. It's very devastating,” said Kim Little, a six year production worker at GE in Fort Edward.
“It's strictly a dollars and cents approach to them, moving into a non-union shop in Clearwater, Florida, paying half the pay, switching GE's benefits,” said Peter Knowlton, President of UE’s Northeast Region.
Knowlton said the plant has always been profitable for GE and can remain profitable. And after decades of dumping toxic PCBs into the Hudson River, he said the company owes the community more than dumping 200 jobs as well.
“The company owes it to that community to maintain those 200 plus jobs after poisoning it for 30 years,” said Knowlton.
The second meeting between GE and Union officials is scheduled for Thursday.