General Electric is asking union workers at its Appliance Park plant in Louisville to agree to a wage freeze in exchange for job security and other benefits.
If the 21-hundred union workers at Appliance Park approve the freeze, GE says it will add 100 new jobs this year and to not outsource any products until the freeze and union contract expire in June 2011.
GE had previously hoped to spin off its appliance division into another company. Spokesperson Kim Freeman says that’s still possible, but the wage freeze is necessary to keep the plant in operation for the immediate future.
“If the company does decide to sell or to spin us off, it doesn’t really matter,” she says. “We have got to make Appliance Park more competitive so that we can be here regardless of what happens in the future. We need to secure our long-term future here by making ourselves more competitive.”
Appliance Park lost $72 million last year. Union leaders declined to comment on the negotiations, but Freeman says the workers seem receptive to the idea.
“They understand that they’re really voting on the future of Appliance Park,” she says. “We need to do everything we can as quickly as we can to make Appliance Park more competitive for our long-term future.”
The union will vote on the measure Wednesday.
Salaried workers at the plant have already had their pay rates frozen.