GE Aviation to lay off 10% of its workforce

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GE Aviation — which has 1,100 workers in Grand Rapids and 900 in Muskegon — will lay off about 10% of its total U.S. workforce of 26,000 employees. Courtesy GE Aviation

An aviation supplier with a large West Michigan presence is making major cuts to its U.S. workforce and operations in response to COVID-19.

H. Lawrence Culp Jr., chair and CEO of GE, said on Monday that the company is taking “aggressive” steps to mitigate the impact of the disease, starting with its aviation business unit.

GE Aviation — which has 1,100 workers in Grand Rapids and 900 in Muskegon — will lay off about 10% of its total U.S. workforce of 26,000 employees, according to Perry Bradley, director of media relations for GE Aviation.

Bradley did not disclose how many of the affected workers are based in West Michigan.

In a message to employees, Culp outlined the following other planned actions for the U.S. aviation business:

• There will be a temporary lack of work impacting about 50% of GE Aviation’s U.S. maintenance, repair and overhaul employees for 90 days.

• These actions build on those the business already has taken, including a hiring freeze, the cancellation of the salaried merit increase, a “dramatic reduction” of all nonessential spending and a significant decrease in its contingent workforce.

• Starting April 1, David Joyce, vice chair of GE and president and CEO of GE Aviation, will forgo half of his salary.

• Culp will forgo his full salary for the remainder of 2020.

The company expects these actions will preserve about $500 million to $1 billion in 2020.

“As COVID-19 continues to spread, the leadership team and I remain focused on three areas during these unprecedented times: protecting the safety of our employees, continuing to serve our customers in their critical time of need and preserving the strength of our businesses,” Culp said in the letter to employees.

Joyce wrote in a separate note to GE Aviation employees:

“Our hardworking, determined employees are the heart of our business, and it is difficult to have to take these steps due to external factors like this. But we must respond immediately with every action within our control to protect our ability to serve our customers now and as the industry eventually recovers,” he said.

As part of the company’s response to COVID-19, GE Healthcare is working to increase manufacturing capacity and output of equipment — including CTs, ultrasound devices, mobile X-ray systems, patient monitors and ventilators — that is important in the diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19 patients.

It also is working through the impact of reduced demand for certain equipment as elective procedures are postponed or canceled around the world.

The company received regulatory approval to sell its BioPharma business unit to Washington, D.C.-based Danaher effective March 31, which Culp said “will help us solidify our financial position further.”

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