A proposal by General Electric Co. to relocate a manufacturing plant from Fort Edward, N.Y., to Clearwater could bring hundreds of new jobs to the Tampa Bay area.
Chris Horne, a GE spokeswoman, said the company is deciding whether to expand operations at its existing Clearwater facility to create a "Center for Excellence."
"It's very preliminary right now," Horne said. "No final decisions have been made."
Members of the union oppose the move, which would cost the community of Fort Edward about 200 jobs.
"It's union busting corporate greed," said Scott Gates, president of Local 332 of the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America. "Our issue is we've been with the GE location for 70 plus years. These are our jobs and we don't want to move."
Though the union has 60 days to present an alternative proposal, Gates said a counterproposal is expected next week, followed by 60 days of bargaining.
The Fort Edward GE plant makes electric capacitors — devices that store energy. The current Clearwater facility produces low and medium voltage transformers.
GE operates other businesses within an hour of the Fort Edward plant, but Horne said "those operations are not part of the same business." A move to Clearwater would bring two of the company's manufacturing operations under one roof, allowing for "economies of scale and efficiencies," he said.
Gates said he sees it merely as a veiled attempt to cut wages and to "destroy the middle class."
"We're going to fight," Gates said. "We'll fight with every resource available. Will we be successful? I don't know."
Ivan Penn can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 892-2332.