A union representing workers at General Electric’s Appliance Park in Louisville, Ky., is asking the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to investigate whether the company violated federal labor law by outsourcing the factory’s warehouse operations.
Workers at GE’s warehouse managed the inventory at the park’s sprawling campus, and made sure the products made it onto trucks and train cars for delivery. The company outsourced the work in January, and the union charges the company failed to “bargain in good faith,” as required by law.
China-based Qingdao Haier Co. bought the GE appliance operation for $5.4 billion last summer.
The company and the International Union of Electronic, Electrical, Salaried, Machine and Furniture Workers – Communications Workers of America (IUE-CWA) Local 83-761, which represents 4,000 workers at Appliance Park, have a tense relationship as the company undergoes cost-cutting measures in order to stay competitive.
None of the 200 employees lost their job during the outsourcing, as they were all able to find replacement positions on site, according to GE appliances spokesperson Kim Freeman.
The union named Haier and two alleged subcontractors, Dart Logistics Services and Quant US Corp., in the charges filed with the NLRB.
“If successful, the union could get the jobs reinstated,” David Suetholz, a Louisville-based labor attorney told WDRB Wednesday.
“If there is evidence there is anti-union animus that motivated this subcontracting – essentially, that they wanted to get rid of the union and stop bargaining with the workers in the warehouse – then Haier is going to have serious problems,” Suetholz told the local television station.
GE announced plans to outsource the distribution operation in August, saying that the process wouldn’t start for at least six months. The company contends that it decided to outsource only after months of negotiations with employees.
GE asserted that the employees did not improve efficiency during negotiations to justify its continued operation out of Louisville. “They have failed to meet their key metrics” Freeman said in an explanation.
The Daily Caller News Foundation reached out to General Electric and the union for comment but has not heard back.
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