Warren looking at options

WARREN – Mayor Doug Franklin expressed regret Friday that nearly 200 jobs will leave the city with the planned closing of G.E.’s Ohio Lamp plant.

However, Franklin suggests the nearly one-year notification of the closing will give the city the chance to look at different options, including finding a new business for the site.

“This was disheartening news,” Franklin said. “Although we were well aware it had been downsizing over the last few years, I did not see (the closure) happening.”

Blaming the North Park Avenue plant’s declining volume and the shift of customer demand to more efficient bulbs made elsewhere, General Electric officials on Thursday announced plans to close the plant in early 2014, displacing 198 full-time workers.

The company said the proposed action is contingent upon the outcome of bargaining with union officials, who according to their labor contract will have an opportunity to offer alternatives to the plan.

Franklin described G.E. as a good corporate partner over the years and said the administration will do what it can to keep them.

George Lopuchovsky, the plant’s manager, notified Franklin on Thursday night of the possibility that the plant will close.

“We have to move forward,” Franklin said. “I immediately began talking with the management team at the regional chamber about what steps we can do to attract a new company.”

The city has not calculated the financial hit it will experience once the plant shuts its doors.

“It was 100 percent within the city’s borders, so its loss will affect our budget,” Franklin said. “Because it is a year away, we will have the opportunity to adjust our budget projections and reduce our expenditure.”

Nearly half of the workers are eligible to retire. The way the contracts are structured, other workers will have an opportunity to transfer to other plants in the corporation.

“Having them move to other plants does not help the city, but I do not like having to see workers lose their livelihoods,” he said.

IUE-CWA Local 722 president Scott Moore said Thursday evening, ”We don’t have a lot of information right now. We will be bargaining with them for 60 days to try to keep the place open. But very, very rarely do they reverse their decision.”

Councilman Alford Novak, D-2nd Ward, in which the plant is located, also expressed concern about the employees and their future employment.

“I know a lot of people took buyouts,” Novak said. “I’m hoping others will be able to get help and training for new careers.”