GE Global Research cutting jobs in Niskayuna

PHOTOGRAPHER: PETER R. BARBER
General Electric in Niskayuna is one beneficiary of a $1.5 million initiative by the Department of Energy to produce large power transformers that are critical to the nation’s power grid. September 28, 2016.PHOTOGRAPHER: PETER R. BARBER General Electric in Niskayuna is one beneficiary of a $1.5 million initiative by the Department of Energy to produce large power transformers that are critical to the nation’s power grid. September 28, 2016.

By John Cropley

NISKAYUNA — General Electric is reducing the workforce at its Global Research campus on River Road.

GE would not say how many jobs are being eliminated or what the affected job descriptions are, but a source within the company confirmed there has been a “job action,” and that the affected employees work not only in Niskayuna, which is the headquarters for Global Research, but at Global Research facilities elsewhere. The source also would not provide numbers or job titles.

Another source — whose friend is among the employees losing their jobs — said the cuts would total about 150 people and heavily target chemical researchers.

Todd Alhart, a Niskayuna-based spokesman for Global Research, would not confirm any layoffs there on Tuesday. He noted, however, that General Electric is a company in transition.

“With GE’s transformation to a digital industrial company, we are evolving our research skill set to meet the needs of our customers and industries,” he said in an email response to questions. “We are limiting research that is not central to GE’s strategy and investing in key areas such as artificial intelligence, robotics and machine learning.

“These changes are taking place across our Global Research centers. This shift is essential to keeping GE at the forefront of innovation and manufacturing into the future.”

General Electric has announced a series of Capital Region job cuts in recent weeks. Through Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification reports to the state Department of Labor:

—On Jan. 27, GE reported that 75 employees in Albany engaged in tax work would be cut, though media reports indicated the workers would move to another company.

—On Jan. 12, GE reported that 41 employees of Current Powered by GE in Schenectady would lose their jobs.

—On Dec. 16, GE reported that 41 workers who assemble locomotive turbochargers for GE Transportation in Latham would lose their jobs.

One other cutback — 27 employees at a small fuel cell production site in Malta, accounting for roughly two-thirds of the staff — was announced by the company Nov. 30 but was not the subject of a WARN notice to the state.

No WARN notice has been posted by the state yet for any workers at Global Research, but there can be a lag between when a company submits the notice and the state posts it.

Alhart said as it continues its transition, General Electric is a different company than it was even two years ago. He noted that four new labs had been created in Niskayuna in 2016, resulting in the addition of 100 jobs, as part of this transition.

Those were the Product Breakout Lab, the Product Management Science Lab and the Variable Cost Productivity Lab — all of which are intended to move products through the development pipeline more quickly — and the Edge Lab, which looks at new areas of robotics and artificial Intelligence.

Joe Landry, the Niskayuna town supervisor, and Ray Gillen, leader of economic development in Schenectady County, both said Tuesday that they had been given no details about job cuts at Global Research.