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It was almost a done deal that the Ohio Lamp Plant in Warren would close eventually after union workers didn’t ratify a proposed agreement earlier this week that would have kept it open.
But some held out hope that another negotiation could save it, until Friday, when the final announcement came from General Electric officials that the plant will close as early as January.
“I’ve worked with these people for 18 years and knowing we’re all going to go our separate ways and not knowing where life’s going to take us, that’s what’s on my mind the most right now,” said Greg Gotti of Champion, an 18-year employee of the plant.
Gotti said the close vote Monday has given way to hostility inside the plant. The proposed agreement failed by just six votes.
“The young workers feel betrayed to most of the older workers that just kept their heads down and kept quiet about it,” he said.
The union and company officials have been bargaining since the end of January when GE officials made the initial closing announcement. They tentatively agreed to a proposal that would have had the plant manufacturing halogen lightbulbs instead of incandescent.
But without the majority ratification of union members, the plan was a no go, leaving 198 people without a job when the plant closes, which could be as early as Jan. 24.
“After that it would be how long they needed that plant operation to meet orders on the products we make there, and it would just be a matter of slowly reducing the crew down to nothing until they didn’t need the plant at all anymore,” Gotti said.
A statement from GE lighting said about half of the affected employees are eligible for retirement or a plant closing pension. All employees will be eligible for severance pay, health care, job placement at up to 10 GE locations, and other benefits.
The statement also says GE officials plan to help employees make a successful transition.
“We wanted to stay in the Valley, we wanted to stay in our home, and we wanted to bring something wonderful here and we could’ve done it. And now we will make it the best we can,” Gotti said.