GE Expands U.S. Green-Energy Production

Labor agreements connected with New York State and Kentucky plants clarify national and multinational strategies pursued by company

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According to a report in the New York Times, General Electric will build a 350-employee factory in Schenectady, N.Y., to make high-density batteries for diesel-electric locomotives, and a 420-employee factory in Lexington, Ky., that will make hybrid-electric water heaters—a product now acquired from China. As a quid pro quo, the International Union of Electrical Workers-Communications Workers of America agreed to accept a two-year wage freeze at the two plants and a lower wage tier for new employees; GE promised to not move any of the factories' operations overseas for two years.

In June, GE announced plans to build a 1,100-employee, $100-million research center near Detroit. CEO Immelt said that GE hoped to (re?)-insource some of the R&D it now does outside the United States. Elaborating in a recent speech in Detroit, Immelt said the United States should learn from China, which is trying to build an advanced economy without sacrificing old-fashioned manufacturing prowess.

That makes more sense, to this blogger anyway, than the confusing and confused rendition of GE's U.S. versus its global responsibilities that Immelt published in London's Financial Times several weeks ago.

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