GE took in more than $4 billion in taxpayer-funded United States defense work in 2021, and is preparing to bring in more than $315 million in new taxpayer funds provided through the National Defense Authorization Act.
Justin Richards, a factory worker and business agent at IUE-CWA Local 201, said this approach and offshoring in the face of major investments from the U.S. government and U.S. taxpayers is "unpatriotic and seems to be another poor decision by GE that won’t just hurt workers, but also shareholders, taxpayers, and the military."
“This is exactly why we are raising the alarm to elected officials and other key stakeholders through the 'GE: Bring it Home' campaign," Richards said. "It’s time for GE to start listening to the workers who made it a powerhouse and can do so once again if the company begins to value the people who actually make the products that it sells to its clients, business partners, and the Department of Defense.”
Since 2010, GE has invested more than $1 billion in its overseas facilities, including a $200-million investment in its Pune India factory, one of the sites where Lynn’s work is likely to move to.
Adam Kaszynski, a factory worker at the Lynn GE plant who also represents the plant’s workforce as president of IUE-CWA Local 201, said that GE has ample space and resources in the Lynn facility to do its work efficiently, on time, and on budget, including a committed and highly skilled local workforce.
"It needs to focus on doing the work the right way in the place that makes the most sense — and that’s right here in the United States where taxpayers are already footing the bill,” Kaszynski said. "GE seems to be distracted with the $2 billion they are spending in an attempt to split into three companies. It seems this is being done to appease the greed of Trian, a hedge fund calling a lot of the shots on the board despite holding less than 5 percent of the company’s shares.”
The 80 jobs that are expected to be outsourced include military-aviation manufacturing jobs.
Based on internal communications obtained by factory workers, GE plans to move most of the work to Canada, China, France, India, and South Korea and non-union domestic facilities.
Workers have been vocal about GE not investing in the workforce of America, despite the U.S. government being one of its largest clients, creating a “GE: Bring it Home” campaign late last year that is backed by a coalition ranging from leading U.S. veterans groups to major environmental-advocacy organizations.
The campaign has been meeting with elected officials and GE workers in multiple states and in Washington, D.C., to raise awareness of the negative impact of outsourcing threats like those recently raised in Lynn.
After learning about GE’s plans to split, Lynn Mayor Jared Nicholson said there have been questions as a community about where GE’s long-standing relationship with the city is headed.
"Continued cuts to River Works would be devastating,” said Nicholson. “Investment would be revitalizing. Elected officials at all levels need to come together to help us drive this point home: With the right investment, GE and their workers can power growth in our communities, growth that serves our national interest. We want to work with our partners in state and federal government, IUE-CWA 201, and GE to help make that happen.”
GE workers said there will be protests in the future centered on the threatened outsourcing and offshoring of jobs.
Workers vowed to increase their outreach to elected officials at both the state and federal levels to address the question of how to begin ensuring that domestic government resources allocated to GE are used to protect, advance, and increase domestic job growth — rather than the opposite.
GE’s facility in Lynn has seen a 90-percent reduction in its workforce since 1985 when it employed more than 13,000 unionized hourly workers.
Norman Blanchard, an employee at the Lynn plant for more than 43 years and a IUE-CWA Local 201 member, said the workers at River Works have manufactured turbines for decades and have the skills to produce them for the offshore wind farms scheduled for New England coastal waters.
"We can do all that and more," Blanchard said. "We want Lynn to be the place where a new chapter is written. Where GE stops cutting and starts reinvesting in America — building engines and hardware for civilian and military aviation, even offshore wind turbines and components."
U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton visited GE workers inside their facility in Lynn on Wednesday after employees heard the news about the outsourcing.
Moulton, a Marine Corps veteran who served in Iraq and now sits on the Armed Services Committee, has helped GE secure contracts to fund military manufacturing, including the Improved Turbine Engine Program and a contract for the creation of an additional 2,000 military helicopters.
A recent report from UMass Boston Labor Resource Center and the Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations tracked this trend of offshoring jobs, saying that over the "past 50 years, a steady stream of value-added work, along with the associated work hours, has been moved to plants all over the world, systemically damaging Lynn’s profitability and long-term viability.”
IUE-CWA national official Jerry Carney said that "we are in solidarity with our brothers and sisters abroad, other GE workers like us, and believe that, mainly, domestic production should service local and regional needs, and we should not repeatedly be pitted against each other in a never-ending spiral of lowering standards, wage cuts and job losses."