Update: Seventy layoffs at GE PrimeStar after Aurora plant put on hold
Update: Over the next few months, dozens of General Electric employees in Colorado will face layoffs as part of the company's controversial plan to put a much-anticipated solar manufacturing plant on hold for at least eighteen months. Since news broke last week about GE's plans to delay an Aurora facility, the company has refused to disclose any specific information on the layoffs -- but state documents show that by the end of August, roughly seventy employees will be let go.
Yesterday, the Colorado Department of Labor sent Westword a copy of a GE document called a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification, or WARN; it's essentially a mandatory letter informing the state of layoffs. Companies must file these notices when the employer is laying off more than fifty workers, and if those totals constitute at least one-third of the workforce, says Department of Labor spokesman Bill Thoennes.
A company must also file this notice if it has 100 or more full-time employees and is closing down an entire facility or work site affecting at least fifty workers.
In this case, GE isn't shutting down any facility, but neither is it pushing forward any time soon with plans for a major Aurora plant. For that reason, seventy employees based in Arvada will be laid off on August 31st. In the meantime, GE will in theory work to improve the specific solar panel technology it hopes to eventually manufacture.
Brian Murphy, the founder of PrimeStar, a Colorado-based startup that was ultimately bought by GE, isn't confident the Aurora plant will ever be built as planned, or that its products can successfully compete in the global market.
The GE letter describes the layoffs as "a reduction in force" and not a facility closure. When we spoke with Murphy earlier this week, he told us he'd heard that around seventy employees had been laid off -- a number that constitutes roughly half of the PrimeStar workforce in Colorado, he believes. He has been in contact with some workers, many of whom he hired years prior, and said he would try to help them find work elsewhere.
Here's the letter.
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