LOUISVILLE, KY —GE Haier announced Tuesday night that it's shutting down some production at Appliance Park this week through April 3 in the wake of calls by union leaders to close the facility.
GE said normal operations will end after second shift on March 19th. Starting with first shift Friday through April 3, the company will reduce shifts or temporarily suspend operations at four buildings at the manufacturing complex.
The company also announced it is halting production at its Selmer, Tennessee Monogram facility and moving to one line per shift at its operations in Lafayette, Georgia, and Decatur, Alabama.
According to a press release, GE’s distribution centers will remain operational. The company will continue delivery and service of appliances while taking additional measures to protect employees and customers.
Louisville GE union president Dino Driskell told workers in a letter earlier Tuesday that he had asked the company to cease production over the next few weeks and for Governor Andy Beshear's office to intervene in temporarily shutting down the plant.
The local union represents about 4,000 hourly workers, most of them assigned to assembly lines for washers, dryers, stoves, ovens and refrigerators.
“I am having a difficult time comprehending how it is important enough to shut down schools, childcare facilities, churches, bars, restaurants, office workers, etc. to help maintain ‘Social Distancing’ and limit the spread of the virus," writes Driskell. “Yet the health and welfare of our members who are assembly line production workers in close proximity is not deemed a risk to spread the virus.”
GE spokeswoman Julie Wood sent a statement earlier Tuesday explaining that the company was taking steps to safeguard employees by asking those who could work remotely to stay home. The company also increased cleaning and sanitation efforts in the plants.
The schedule at GE will vary depending on the factory building. Starting with first shift Friday through April 3, GE will reduce shifts to operate one washer line and one dryer line on day shift at AP1. It will also operate one line on day shift at AP3, where dishwashers are assembled. At AP4, where plastics are manufactured, operations will also be reduced. Production will halt completely on the refrigeration line at AP5, according to the statement.