Employees at GE Consumer and Industrial’s refrigeration plant in Bloomington have been informed that the company plans to close the plant by the fourth quarter of 2009.
Last year, the operation lost approximately $45 million and company officials say the losses are expected to continue at the same pace. Declining sales for the side-by-side refrigerators made at the plant combined with rising costs for material and labor have put the operation in an uncompetitive position, said Plant Manager Kent Suiters.
The plant currently employs 839 hours employees, represented by IBEW Local 2249, and 59 salaried employees. The union has until mid-March to offer competitive alternatives to the shutdown plan. If no feasible alternatives are agreed upon and the decision is made to proceed with the shutdown, approximately 60 percent of the Bloomington employees will be eligible to retire with GE retirement and pension benefits. All employees would be eligible for the company’s plant closing benefits, which include cash benefits, retirement options, education and retraining benefits and re-employment assistance programs.
GE has said the Bloomington closing will not affect the operations at Appliance Park in Louisville, which manufactures high-end appliances. According to a statement released by the company, “There are currently no plans to close Appliance Park or transfer production. It is important to note that Appliance Park’s competitive and operational circumstances are different from the Bloomington operation. Over the last two years, Appliance Park’s profitability has improved, and we expect this positive productivity trend to continue.”