Union to meet with GE in last-ditch effort to save Virginia plant

Union leaders are set to meet with General Electric Co on Wednesday in a last-ditch effort to save a Virginia manufacturing plant from closing next year and spare the jobs of more than 260 people.

Both GE and the union confirmed that the meeting is expected to take place on Wednesday, nearly a week after the company first announced plans to end its manufacturing operation,  but keep its engineering center at its Salem, Virginia plant next year.

“This action is difficult and does not reflect the performance, dedication, and hard work of our employees. If the site is closed, approximately 265 employees could be impacted, nearly half of whom are eligible for retirement. Affected employees would be provided with a comprehensive severance package, including transition support to new employment,” a GE spokesperson told FOX Business.

The Boston-based conglomerate said its reasoning for the cuts are due to declining power plant orders. The company has struggled along with other turbine manufacturers over the past year as global demand for the units have fallen across the board due to low-cost wind and solar energy.

GE’s stock price has also taken a beating over the past year (falling 44%) since John Flannery became chief executive in August.

Last December, GE first announced its plans to cut 12,000 jobs in its power unit in an attempt to save $1 billion in 2018.

However, GE notes that the Salem manufacturing jobs won’t be completely eliminated but rather moved to other company locations or handled by supplier partners in India or China. The changes are expected to take 12 to 24 months.

Still, to union officials, the Salem plant has been an integral part of town’s fabric for more than 60 years and they are fighting to keep it.

The union has 60 days to propose an alternative.