WARREN - More than 170 workers at General Electric's Ohio Lamp Plant are entering their third week of furlough. The plant temporarily shut down due to lack of work, union and company officials said.
Christopher Augustine, manager of global communications and public affairs for G.E. Lighting, attributed the three-week shutdown to a poor economy.
About a dozen workers remain at the plant doing maintenance work during the shutdown, which is scheduled to end Oct. 15.
The plant employs about 200 workers, including 189 hourly employees.
The temporary furlough comes about two months after 36 plant workers were laid off indefinitely on Aug. 1.
IUE-CWA Local 722 president Scott Moore attributed the temporary furlough as well as the permanent layoffs to a volatile market and lack of sales brought about by issues like unfair global competition, particularly from China, and results of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 that effectively bans use of less-efficient incandescent lamps in favor of more energy-efficient compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) and LED lamps.
''LEDs are the way of the future, but I don't think we are going to be able to see it (manufactured) here,'' Moore said. ''We are all worried. It looks worse now than it ever has.''
Still, Moore said there has been no official word of the plant closing, and according to the existing labor contract, 18-month notification is required before that could happen.
The North Park Avenue Ohio Lamp Plant is the last remaining lighting factory of four G.E. previously operated in the area. It closed its Austintown plant and Niles Glass in 2008, and its Niles Mahoning Glass in April 2010.
Niles Glass had some 500 workers in the 1970s, while about 300 worked at Mahoning Glass.