General Electric said it plans to spend U.S. $20 million to expand dishwasher production in Louisville, KY, U.S., but that investment could send 98 jobs to Mexico.
GE spokeswoman Kim Freeman said the investment would expand production of long-door dishwashers, appliances with doors that run from the counter to the floor instead of stopping at an access panel several inches above the floor.
"It's a very popular option for Profile and Monogram customers," Ms. Freeman said, referring to GE's high-end and premium brand names. To offer the long doors to the mass market, "we have to get some of the costs out of it," she said.
Ms. Freeman said GE has begun talks with the IUE-CWA Local 761 union on whether the cost cuts can be achieved without outsourcing.
If GE decides to move the work to Mexico, Ms. Freeman said it does not plan to lay off any workers. The 98 job cuts will be handled through early retirements, attrition, and by moving workers to other jobs in the facility.
GE already builds the higher-end long-door dishwashers Appliance Park in Louisville, but to increase production, it will need to retool an older assembly line at the facility. After the upgrade, the majority of GE's Louisville-built dishwashers will feature the longer doors. The company plans to continue producing short-door washers, primarily in its bargain-level Hotpoint line.
The expansion will allow GE to produce more long-door dishwashers in Louisville, but to keep costs down for the lower-priced GE versions, the company is considering sending sub-assembly work to a plant in Mexico, Ms. Freeman said.
GE's Consumer & Industrial division employs about 6,000 people at Appliance Park in Louisville. Half work on the assembly lines; the other half work in management, design, marketing, and sales.
The plant upgrade follows a U.S. $40-million improvement to the dishwasher line completed last year. That upgrade allowed GE to shift Monogram and Profile production to Louisville from plants in Europe and Australia. (The Courier-Journal)
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