After General Electric decided to move some work from its jet-engine plant in Lynn to other factories — including some overseas — the politicians who represent the North Shore city in Congress are pushing back.
Senators Ed Markey and Elizabeth Warren and Representative Seth Moulton sent a letter on Tuesday to GE Aviation chief executive John Slattery, urging the company to strengthen its domestic manufacturing in Lynn and elsewhere in the United States.
The trigger for this letter: a notice on Jan. 14 that GE would transfer work done by 82 employees in Lynn to other GE factories and outside vendors — including locations in China, France, Taiwan, and Korea. GE portrayed the move as an attempt to improve on-time delivery and said it wouldn’t result in any involuntary job loss at the Lynn factory — one of the biggest manufacturing plants in Massachusetts. GE was giving a six-month notice to its largest union — the IUE-CWA — of its intention to transfer the production work. GE says 70 percent of the transferred work would remain in the United States.
That’s not good enough for Markey, Warren, and Moulton. In their letter, they say that to start, GE should immediately rescind this work transfer.
They also want GE to move work on the T700 helicopter engine for the Army to the United States from Romania and Korea, and to commit to doing all production work on the next generation T901 engine for the Army’s Black Hawk and Apache helicopters in the United States. They’re calling for an unspecified increase in investment in the Lynn plant, up from the $30 million that the company spent last year, and for improved hiring and training efforts for local unionized jobs. As GE Aviation prepares for an eventual future as a separate business from GE’s energy and healthcare divisions, the three politicians write that the company should be investing more in its Lynn workers, a “commitment that they have earned and one that is in the strategic and economic interests of our nation.”
A spokesman for Boston-based GE said that although company officials will respond to the letter directly, they are proud of the more than $100 million invested in the Lynn plant and the roughly 1,000 workers hired there since 2017. The company employs about 2,500 people there today, with 1,350 represented by one of four unions, including nearly 1,200 with the IUE-CWA Local 201. GE has more than 100 jobs open at the site today, and the workers affected by the transfer will be able to take other jobs at the plant if they so choose.
The dust-up comes several months after the IUE-CWA and its allies launched a “Bring It Home GE” campaign to pressure the company to reinvest in domestic manufacturing and pare back its offshoring.
In response to the letter, Local 201 president Adam Kaszynski issued a brief statement on Tuesday, praising Lynn’s congressional delegation for “beginning to hold GE accountable for [the company’s] repeated failure to invest in domestic union manufacturing while receiving billions in defense revenue from the U.S. government every year.”
Jon Chesto can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @jonchesto.