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As COVID-19 work slows, GE Healthcare lays off about 140 employees in Madison

As COVID-19 work slows, GE Healthcare lays off about 140 employees in Madison

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Virus Outbreak Wisconsin Pence

Vice President Mike Pence, right, talks to workers during an April visit to the GE Healthcare manufacturing facility in Madison, which had ramped up production to meet the global need for ventilators. 

GE Healthcare has laid off about 140 employees at its Madison facility as the need for new ventilators and anesthesia machines has decreased, according to union representatives.

GE Healthcare had hired about 250 employees at the Datex-Ohmeda plant on Madison’s Southeast Side as the COVID-19 pandemic caused a spike in need for the life-saving machines. Now, after several months of whirlwind production, many plants are slowing their pace.

About 50 employees were laid off in September, and about 90 were laid off Friday, according to the union, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Local 1406.

A spokesperson for GE Healthcare said the company will work with laid-off employees to find other positions within the company, if available.

“This decision does not reflect on the performance or dedication of the impacted employees, who played an important role supporting our COVID-19 efforts,” the company said in a statement.

The union negotiated a one-year extension agreement in March to facilitate expanded production needs amid the pandemic. Under the agreement, the laid-off employees will retain call-back rights for up to two years.

“The union worked hard during this pandemic and was quickly able to train their union brothers and sisters in an effort to increase production as quickly as possible,” said Alex Hoekstra, directing business representative for IAMAW District 10. “I hope the company continues to invest in the facility and employees. The hard-working members impacted by the layoff deserve to return to a quality job.”

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