U.S. workers protest against closure of GE plant

16.10.2013

Workers of the General Electric plant in Fort Edward, NY joined by union members and local communities announce a rally planned for Friday 18 October to protest against closure of their plant.

The workers and representing them Local 332 of the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America (UE), a U.S. affiliate of IndustriALL are worried that the closure of the capacitor plant and its transfer to Florida will have catastrophic consequences for 200 employees, their families and even more harmful to the local community through destruction of local businesses working with GE and leaving many more people without income.

However, this is not the only concern of the workers and their union, GE leaves a very bad environnemental heritage to the Fort Edward community.

According to the union from 1940s to 1970s the GE Fort Edward plant has poured some 1.3 million pounds of highly-toxic polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) into the Hudson River. The GE has tried to escape the responsibility for the damages and currently a multi-year project to clean the river is taking place. The consequences are still impacting both the environment and people’s health.

Commenting on the closure Scott Gates said, “It would be a gross injustice to all the people of our region and of New York State, for GE to take away these jobs and leave us nothing but polluted land and a poisoned river. GE owes us much more. At a minimum, GE has an obligation to keep these jobs here.”

IndustriALL expressed its full solidarity support to the Fort Edward plant workers, their families and local communities. In his letter to Local 332 members Jyrki Raina said, “We strongly believe that General Electric has a social responsibility to protect the livelihood of General Electric employees and its 200 families in the community. Furthermore, General Electric should strictly abide by EPA’s regulations concerning the clean up of hazardous waste sites, including the dumping of millions of gallons of PCBs into the Hudson River. General Electric must take full responsibility for the harmful impact of its actions on the environment and human health.”