General Electric anticipates temporarily laying off 60% of its Rutland workforce as part of a nationwide staff reduction.
“Due to the unprecedented impact of COVID-19 on the commercial aviation industry, GE Aviation is implementing a temporary reduction in commercial engine assembly and some component manufacturing operations for up to four weeks,” read a statement from a GE spokesman sent in response to inquiries. “We appreciate the commitment of all our employees during this difficult time, and we regret having to take this action. We will continue to deliver for our customers and preserve our capability to respond when the industry recovers.”
The statement said this would affect roughly half of the company’s U.S. engine assembly and component manufacturing operations. A message to local GE employees said it expected 60% of the Rutland workforce to be subject to the “temporary lack of work requirement,” beginning April 6.
“That’s very unfortunate,” Mayor David Allaire said when informed of the situation Tuesday evening. “I know there’s a lot of families that depend on that paycheck all over our city and all over the country. It shows all industries are being affected.”
With roughly 1,400 workers, GE is one of the county’s biggest employers, if not the single biggest.
“The workforce at GE is made up of folks not just from the city, but all over the county,” Allaire said. “I’ve seen New York plates in that parking lot. This will affect the whole area. ... That’s a lot of people out on the street. Let’s hope it’s a short period of time.”
GE will not cut employees completely adrift during the four-week span. A company spokesman said GE will pay the employer and employee health insurance contributions for that time, and the notice to local employees said they will receive income aid extension payments based on their length of employment.
The local notice said informational sessions will begin Thursday and that management will start by seeking volunteers based on seniority.
The mayor said Wednesday he was waiting to hear what comes of those sessions.