Since 1955, the GE plant in Salem has been a staple in the community. Among other things, the industrial company has employed thousands of people as well as produced turbine controls for electricity generation over the last 63 years. On Friday, June 8, GE Power announced a provisional plan to close the plant, according to a union official.
Vickie Hurley, president of the labor union representing the workers, says the company plans to do shut down the plant within the next two years.
Because industrial plants all across the country have experienced tremendous turbulence in recent years, many community members, unfortunately, were not surprised to hear the news.
Salem Mayor Randy Foley said in a statement “The GE plant and its workers have been integral parts of Salem’s fabric for more than 60 years. When the plant employed over 3,000 back in its heyday, it seemed like everyone you knew had a family member who was working there. Many of them are still actively involved in the community. I think we always knew this was a possibility, especially since GE has been reducing its workforce worldwide in past years.”
A comprehensive severance package, including transition support to new employment, will be provided to the more than 250 people expected to lose their jobs, according to GE.
“I am both surprised and saddened to learn that the GE plant is potentially closing at the end of the year. Right now, our thoughts are with the workers and families who could be displaced in the coming months,” Salem City Manager Kevin Boggess said. “GE truly has been a Salem institution for decades, and we hope that many of these individuals can find new employment elsewhere in the valley. Financially, the impact on the city will not be nearly as significant as it would have been 20 or 30 years ago, because the plant’s production has been greatly reduced in recent years.”
Hurley is encouraging elected officials and others in the community to work together and try to prevent the plant closing from happening.