Jonesboro GE Plant Likely Closing in 2005 - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Jonesboro, AR -- Kathy Morris reports

Jonesboro GE Plant Likely Closing in 2005

November 9, 2004 -- Posted at: 11:00pm

JONESBORO, AR - "It was difficult for us to announce," said Ron Andresevic, Jonesboro plant manager.

Learning that the GE plant which once employed 1,100 people could close in a year likely was not a surprise to the employees who remain there.

Andresevic added, "It was a difficult decision to make. I'm sure it's having an impact on their families and I feel bad about that."

In December 2002, General Electric made the chilling announcement that 50 jobs would be cut in order to stay competitive in refrigerator market. The 240 people who worked at the plant at that point assembling motors have dwindled down to 45.

"The key ingredient is the loss of a major customer, as well as the loss of major customers over the past several years," explained Andresevic, "This facility lost $2.4 million this year."

The closure is not a sealed deal yet. Union representatives have a Decision Bargaining Period of 60 days. It's their chance to offer ideas on how to better improve the products that are produced at the Jonesboro plant. At the end of those 60 days, GE officials will make a final decision on whether to give those proposed changes a try as well as a final conclusion regarding the future of General Electric in Jonesboro.

"We will do everything we can as GE to make sure that these people can transition to another life as best they can," Andresevic commented.

Ron Andresevic explained that suggestions given during previous Decision Bargaining Periods, and the changes that were made as a result have been successful. If it doesn't work at the Jonesboro location, there are plant closing benefits available to employees including training, preferential hiring and education.

Andresevic said 36 of the 45 effected employees are eligible for early retirement pension programs. The remainder will have the benefits packages available to them.

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