GE considers closing Salisbury plant

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 31, 2012

By Karissa Minn
SALISBURY — General Electric Co. is considering closing its Salisbury plant next year, impacting 112 employees, a company representative confirmed Wednesday.
“Please note this decision is not yet finalized and the earliest any final decision would be implemented would be in May 2013,” wrote Gia L. Oei, global communications leader for GE Energy, in an email.
Over the next 60 days, Oei said, the company will meet with impacted employees to talk about the announcement and any “proposals or alternatives that they present to us.”
Oei said in a brief telephone interview that the company will weigh all of the options before making its choice. She said employees found out about the proposal last Thursday.
Salisbury resident Joe Adcock, who works at the plant, said he has been an employee of GE for 17 years and the announcement “was a shock.”
“This plant here — we’ve been making money. We’ve had no problems as far as being out of work,” Adcock said Wednesday. “But this is a big corporation, and they make big decisions that are way above us.”
Oei said that “increased costs, a changing market and a difficult economic environment” have lowered production at the Salisbury facility, which makes low-voltage lighting panels.
If the plan moves forward, GE would consolidate its North Carolina equipment manufacturing operations at its larger plant in Mebane. Its Salisbury plant on Old Concord Road would be shut down.
“We may get the opportunity to go to the plant in Mebane … but they’re telling us we’re going to have to go in as entry level at a lower wage,” Adcock said. “A lot of people that have been up there a long time are making pretty good money, and they just have a hard time with that, you know?”
He said the company also has about 50 workers on callback status, meaning those employees who previously lost their jobs could get the first offers for open positions.
It’s not clear yet how many of the 112 employees would be laid off, Oei said, or whether some could continue their work in Mebane.
“GE is committed to providing comprehensive benefits, severance income and job placement aid to assist impacted employees through this transition,” Oei wrote. “To the extent possible, we will also work closely with these individuals to explore job opportunities within GE.”
RowanWorks Director Robert Van Geons said Wednesday that city and county officials, as well as community college and Chamber of Commerce leaders, want to help GE avoid closing the plant if at all possible.
“We’ve reached out to the company to try everything we can to talk to them, to see what can be done to keep the Salisbury facility going,” Van Geons said. “We’ll continue to work with the company, and we appreciate them as a long-term employer in our community.”
Contact reporter Karissa Minn at 704-797-4222.