WARREN, Ohio (WKBN) – Friday was the last day on the job for workers at the General Electric Lamp Plant in Warren.
The final trucks pulled out of the facility on North Park Avenue Friday afternoon. Nearly 200 workers will hit the unemployment line.
It was announced last year that the company wanted to retool the plant to make energy-efficient halogen light bulbs in place of the incandescent bulbs there were produced at the facility. The changeover would mean a reduction in staff and layoffs and would also mean concessions for the workers who stayed.
The union voted in April on the new proposal by the company, but the agreement was voted down by just six votes. Passage would have kept the plant open.
Greg Gotti of Champion, whose father and grandfather worked at the lamp plant, said the closing of the plant is like losing a member of the family.
“It’s been a great sense of sadness. A lot of nostalgia. A lot of people that have been family for a long time that we are going our separate ways. We have lost that identity of ‘we.’ It’s been tough,” Gotti said.
He said he has been working on a communication degree at Kent State University to get into a new line of work.
“I’m 41 years old now and my back is not what it was. Wanted to get into something where I didn’t have to worry about we are going to make it cheaper in China, those kinds of things,” Gotti said.
GE officials said when they announced the plant’s closure that 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 city of Warren will lose approximately $280,000 in income tax because of the closure. City officials said they hope to recoup some of the job loss.
Council recently passed an amendment to existing legislation of the city’s incentive plan for tax abatements they offer companies they court from around the country.
“Usually the best incentive package ends up winning out for those jobs so what we wanted to do with the help of city council was to bring us more in line and level the competitive playing field in trying to attract some of these new companies,” said Warren Safety-Service Director Enzo Cantalamessa.
Companies with long standing working relationships such as AVI foods, as well as local restaurants and other businesses, said they expect to see trickle down effect from the GE plant closing.