A union that represents more than 3,500 General Electric workers has launched a new ad campaign aimed at persuading the Boston-based conglomerate to increase its investment in US factories instead of overseas operations.
The IUE-CWA, an arm of the Communications Workers of America that focuses on manufacturing, announced the campaign on Monday aimed at highlighting the importance of GE factories to their communities, as part of the union’s “Bring it Home, GE” campaign. One prominent star of these ads: the jet-engine plant in Lynn, where GE employs nearly 2,450 people, including 1,175 members of the IUE-CWA. The ads have been running since late September in Washington, D.C., Greater Boston, and several other media markets where GE and GE Lighting factories are located. The union is running the ads that feature Lynn in the Boston market, particularly on Fox and MSNBC.
In Lynn’s case, the ads come at a time when GE leadership is highlighting its commitment to the aviation plant. Chief executive Larry Culp spoke on a quarterly earnings call last week about how he visited the Lynn factory earlier in October with John Slattery, the head of GE’s aviation division, to oversee work they hope will speed up delivery times. Also last week, GE said it had committed another $4.4 million toward workforce training efforts on the North Shore.
Adam Kaszynski, president of IUE-CWA Local 201, said the union welcomes the attention from GE to Lynn but that it’s simply not enough. Kaszynski said GE shipped some component work on a military helicopter contract to Romania in the spring, which he said may explain why his local membership has dropped by about 25 people during the past year. He said his local had about 1,800 members a decade ago.
“What we’ve seen is instead of layoffs, they allow the jobs to go by attrition,” Kaszynski said. “They would rather build plants in other places . . . We’ve done all the right things to cooperate for this work, and they keep bleeding us.”
The ads feature images of Lynn’s downtown, its coastline and parks, a mural of the city’s industrial heritage, and, of course, the massive plant itself and several workers there. Kaszynski said feedback has been positive so far.
“People care about having these good union jobs,” he said.
The TV blitz follows a full page ad in The Boston Globe in April placed by an IUE-CWA-backed community group, accusing GE of moving jobs overseas at the expense of plants in Lynn and Schenectady, N.Y. That ad was timed to run in advance of GE’s annual meeting in May.
GE officials counter that they’ve long viewed the Lynn factory as a vital part of its manufacturing operations. The plant was largely insulated from dramatic job cuts in GE’s aviation division last year during the downturn in air travel caused by the pandemic. That’s because the factory primarily focuses on fulfilling military contracts instead of commercial ones. GE is planning on investing $36 million in the plant this year.
A company spokesman said: “GE Aviation is one of the largest manufacturing and engineering companies in the state with nearly 2,450 employees. We have hired approximately 500 manufacturing employees at the Lynn site since 2017 and are currently seeking talent for manufacturing positions.”