GE Appliances following through on plan to move AC unit producti - WDRB 41 Louisville News

GE Appliances following through on plan to move AC unit production from Louisville

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GE Appliance Park Zoneline production line GE Appliance Park Zoneline production line

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) --  GE Appliances is moving forward with a plan to shift production of a hotel-room air conditioner from Louisville, but the 140 employees who work on the line will be able to get other jobs within Louisville Appliance Park, the company said Friday.

Still, the president of the union that represents about 3,600 rank-and-file workers at the park said it's the latest in a series of moves undermining the long-term future of the 60-year-old manufacturing campus.

"The company seems to be aggressively piecing us apart," said Dana Crittendon, president of the IUE-CWA Local 83-761. "...I can't believe that they continue to move in this direction." 

GE Appliances, a Louisville-based unit of China’s Qingdao Haier, first disclosed the plan to move production of the Zoneline AC unit in May.

But under a labor contract with workers, the company was obligated to first spend 60 days considering alternatives proposed by the union.

"We gave them several good proposals," Crittendon said, declining to describe the alternatives offered by the union.

GE Appliances said in a press release Friday that it has rejected the union’s proposals and will follow through on the plan to move the Zoneline production to another of its U.S. plants.

The change will begin in November. 

The move is meant to free up space in Appliance Park’s Building 2 to allow the return of Derby Supply Chain Solutions, GE Appliances’ third-party parts distributor.

Derby, which supplies the parts used to make the appliances, has been in Shepherdsville since April 2015, when a fire destroyed the building in which the company had operated at Appliance Park.

Having parts distributed on site once again will be a big boost to Appliance Park, said Bill Good, vice president of GE Appliances’ supply chain network, in a press release.

“That speed and agility is essential for us to meet commitments to customers and be on par with our competitors,” he said.

But Crittendon noted that the elimination of Zoneline is the third move affecting jobs at the park since Haier bought the company from General Electric Co. in June 2016.

Last year, GE Appliances stopped producing the GeoSpring hybrid-electric water heater because of low sales, and the company outsourced its finished-product warehouse operation to a third-party company.

Each time, GE Appliances said workers could find other jobs at the park, but Crittendon the moves still amount to job losses through attrition and other factors.

He said the union, which recently had nearly 4,000 active members, is now down to a little over 3,600.

"When you lose a product line, that’s job loss," he said.

The union filed a complaint with a National Labor Relations Board over the warehouse outsourcing, which Crittendon said is still pending.

Asked if the union plans a similar action regarding the Zoneline move, Crittendon declined to comment. 

Reach reporter Chris Otts at 502-585-0822, cotts@wdrb.com, on Twitter or on Facebook. Copyright 2017 WDRB News. All rights reserved.

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