Jeffrey Immelt’s appointment by President Obama to head his new White House economic council has some labor leaders concerned, given the perception that the boss of General Electric (NYSE: GE) is hostile to the union movement and is committed to outsourcing American jobs to foreign (cheaper) workers.
The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) pointed out in a press release that in just the past five months, Immelt has eliminated “scores” of U.S. jobs when he ordered the closure of GE plants in Virginia, Massachusetts and Ohio.
“We are rewarding the guy who is turning off America’s lights, literally,” said IAM International President Tom Buffenbarger.
“Two of the plants on Immelt’s hit list made incandescent light bulbs. Replacement bulbs will be made in – you guessed it – China.”
IAM further noted that while Immelt was closing down U.S. plants, he was signing deals with the Chinese.
In the past week alone, Immelt inked multi-billion dollar deals for 50 GE power plants in China, as well as a joint venture that will place GE’s most sophisticated cockpit avionics in the hands of a country that is poised to compete directly with U.S. aerospace manufacturers, IAM explained.
“The U.S. aerospace industry is currently one of the few with a positive impact on the nation’s balance of trade,” said Buffenbarger. “We can ill afford to place its future in the hands of a man who is supporting its most determined competitor.”
Similarly, Scott Paul, the executive director of the Alliance for American Manufacturing, was quoted on Huffington Post as saying: I think the challenge with Immelt, and I'm just wondering about the politics of this too, because you have the industrial heartland which is still a battleground, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Wisconsin. They have all been devastated by manufacturing job loss, and in Jeff Immelt you have a CEO who has supported all of the policies that have led to that devastation.
Paul added that “I think the president has a hard time convincing the American people that having an outsourcing CEO as your key adviser on jobs and competitiveness is going to be a winner for them.
Palash has worked as a business journalist for 21 years in New York.