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General Electric to close DeKalb motors plant

Published: Thursday, March 27, 2014 4:50 p.m. CDT • Updated: Friday, March 28, 2014 12:00 a.m. CDT
Caption
The General Electric building located at 1900 Pleasant Street in DeKalb, Ill., as seen on Friday, Jan. 10, 2014.

DeKALB – General Electric officials plan to close the DeKalb plant in 2015 after rejecting a plan from unions to reduce operating costs, company officials announced Thursday.

The move to shutter the plant at 1900 Pleasant St. was made because the plant is noncompetitive with other producers, GE spokeswoman Kim Freeman told the Chronicle in an e-mail. Freeman said the small motors produced at the plant, which are used in residential clothes dryers, cost about 20 percent more than motors from other suppliers.

The two unions represent the 94 employees at the plant: IUE-CWA Local 1081 and IAM Local 2068.

After company officials announced on Jan. 9 that they planned to close the plant, unions were given 60-days to submit a cost-saving proposal.

Union officials presented their proposals to DeKalb plant managers on March 6. But company officials deemed them insufficient.

“Unfortunately, their efforts, while creative and sincere, were determined not to achieve sufficient operating cost reductions,” Freeman wrote.

Kathy Brown, IUE-CWA Local 1081 president, could not be reached for comment Thursday evening.

As a result of the closure, 94 people could lose their jobs. About 44 percent of those employees will be eligible to receive retirement benefits and the remaining employees will receive plant-closing benefits such as preferential employment placement at other GE locations, severance, tuition reimbursement for education and retraining, continued insurance, and medical and dental benefits.

DeKalb Mayor John Rey was disheartened to learn the plant would close, but applauded union and GE officials for their work on the proposal. The plant opened in 1946.

“I have the impression it's a market-driven decision and it's unfortunate that people are being affected by it,” Rey said. “Clearly, it sounds like both sides gave it a good look, but I'm disappointed they couldn't come to an agreement.”

Plant manager Ron Andresevic, in a prepared statement said he was sorry to learn the effort to keep the plant open had failed.

“I want to thank the unions for their recommendations on how we might regain our competitiveness,” Andresevic said in the statement. “Both the company and unions have spent considerable time and effort looking for ways to close our competitive gap. I regret that our efforts fell short.”

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