WARREN, Ohio - After more than a century, the last local General Electric plant is closing its doors for good.
The GE Lamp Plant on North Park Avenue in Warren dates back 123 years. In the 1970's, it had a workforce of nearly 1,200. But the plant experienced a steady decline in volume as customers shifted from the bulbs made here to more energy-efficient lighting products.
The closing was announced last April after the union, in a close vote, rejected a contract with pay cuts and other concessions. The vote still troubles 14-year employee Dave Hall.
"A Lot of people are losing their livelihood. There are so many few decent paying jobs around here and this was one of the better paying jobs. I don't know why anybody would want to vote to close the place," Hall said.
Hall says the last day at GE is a life-changer for workers with families and bills to pay, and for him at age 55.
"What do I do? I got to look for another job now, I have to do something until at least 60," Hall said.
Heading in for his final shift, Charles Gerhart greeted a fellow worker for the last time. It's an emotional day for Gerhart; He worked there with his father, who retired in 1988, and the plant has been a part of his life for more than three decades.
"I've been here 35 years and was hoping to be here longer," Gerhart said.
He calls it a sad day and says he will miss the many friends he's made on the job.
"It's been like a family all these years. You try to be close and work with everybody. There's a lot of good people in here," he said.
The Warren plant is the last of six GE plants in the valley to close.