LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- For the past week, the rumors have been circulating among workers at Appliance Park that GE is planning to sell its appliance division -- but according to a statement from the company and the head of the local union representing hourly workers, it's just rumor and speculation for now.
The president of IUE-CWA Local 83761, Jerry Carney, says there always seems to be speculation about the future of Appliance Park, but he says the latest rumor seems to have taken on a life of its own, spreading quickly through social media.
"For some unknown reason," Carney told WDRB News in an interview at union headquarters, "this rumor spread like wildfire, though GE could come out tomorrow and say we've decided to sell appliances. But as of today (Monday), that is a rumor and strictly a rumor."
The latest rumor making the rounds among the workers is that Swedish appliance giant Electrolux is in the process of buying the appliance division and that representatives of the company were in Louisville to take a look at the plant.
Carney, who has seen a lot of changes at Appliance Park during the past several years, says there always seems to be talk that GE wants to sell its appliance division.
Recent history provides a reason for all the speculation.
"In 2008, it became official when GE came out and said they are going to sell and spin us off; however, the great recession hit and nobody had any money to buy us, which was the greatest thing to ever happen to Appliance Park," Carney said.
That's because instead of selling, GE decided to invest about $1 billion in its consumer and industrial division to hire more workers and make new products.
According to Carney, 2,200 workers have been added to the payroll at Appliance Park in just the past two years. The hourly workforce now numbers 3,800. Total employment in Louisville is about 6,000, the highest it has been in many years -- but Appliance Park continues to operate in the red, so the rumors about its future continue to fly.
"If we do get sold one day," said Carney, "I want to make sure that whoever buys Appliance Park realizes that we have the best workforce here and to keep the work here in Louisville, Kentucky."
GE's Consumer and Industrial Division issued this statement to WDRB News.
"We do not comment on rumors or speculation. Hundreds of companies visit our campus every year. As per our normal policy, we would not disclose information on any company or nature of their visit."
Carney added that, "I want to say this to my workers at Appliance Park: just be calm. If something happens, it's out of your control. It is out of your manager's control and it's above anybody's pay grade at Appliance Park, as to whether we are going to be sold or not."
Electrolux is a worldwide appliance manufacturer based in Stockholm, Sweden. It owns a variety of appliance brands including Frigidaire -- but for the moment at least, any sale of GE's Consumer and Industrial Division to Electrolux remains speculation.