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Sluggish Appliance Sales Furloughs 500 GE Workers

An unexpected slump in appliance sales is forcing General Electric to furlough 500 workers, as it shuts down the second shift of a new refrigerator line for five weeks.

IUE-CWA members are eligible to receive a package of unemployment compensation which amounts to about 75 percent of their take home pay, while GE will also continue medical and other employee benefits, IUE-CWA Local 761 President Jerry Carney told the local newspaper.

About 84 new factory hires, who were slated to start work this week, never stepped foot into Appliance Park. However, GE will hold their jobs, and they will be able to collect unemployment benefits.

"They had to call them [Monday] and tell them they didn't have a job," Carney told the newspaper. "We got that part worked out. That is why having a union is important. Now we've just got to get this economy going."

The refrigerator line was one of four new products launched at Appliance Park last year. The company hired 2,500 new workers to expand production.