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Union leaders to meet General Electric in bid to save Virginia jobs

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Union leaders plan to meet with General Electric Co on Wednesday in a bid to avert closure of a Virginia factory that makes controls for GE’s power plants, the company and the union said on Tuesday.

General Electric said last week that it intends to cease manufacturing at the facility and eliminate about 265 jobs because of declining power plant orders. The work will be moved to outside vendors and companies in India and China, the union said. GE said the changes will take 12-to-24 months.

The Boston-based industrial conglomerate is under pressure to generate growth and profit in its $35 billion power business after steep declines last year.

Low cost wind and solar electricity are slowing construction of new fossil-fuel power plants and forcing closure of old ones.

GE’s stock has fallen 44 percent since John Flannery became chief executive in August. The company said in December it would eliminate 12,000 jobs in its power unit.

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“Based on the ongoing challenges in the power industry and a significant decline in orders at this facility, we announced our intent to close our manufacturing facility in Salem, Virginia, and move the remaining work to other GE locations or to supplier partners,” GE said in a statement emailed to Reuters on Tuesday.

A GE email sent to the union last week said volume at the plant had fallen 35 percent in the past two years and that the facility was operating at about 40 percent of capacity.

The email also cited price competition in the shrunken power-plant market. “Product cost continues to be a major influencer when customers are selecting their next controls solution,” it said. GE competes with Siemens AG, Mitsubishi and others.

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Prior efforts to downsize and cut costs at the factory, including layoffs and not filling vacant positions, “have not been enough,” the email said.

About 200 workers will remain at the facility, including engineers for GE’s power plant control systems.

GE spokesman Greg Gibbons said a small training center at the site will be run by ABB Ltd after it acquires GE’s Industrial Solutions business. GE plans to sell the building and lease it back, he said.

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Wednesday’s meeting will allow the union to begin talks on how to save the plant, Vicky Hurley, president of IUE-CWA Local 82161 told Reuters.

The union has 60 days to propose an alternative to closure of the factory, which opened in 1955 and employed thousands.

Reporting by Alwyn Scott; Editing by Bill Berkrot


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US withholds cash from UN Population Fund over China abortions

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The United States said Tuesday it will again withhold contributions to the UN Population Fund due to its work with China, which controls family size, as the agency accused Washington of jeopardizing women's health.

It marked the third straight year that the United States has refused to fund the UN body as President Donald Trump's administration seeks to combat abortion, a pivotal issue for his evangelical Christian base.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo determined that "China's family planning policies still involve the use of coercive abortion and involuntary sterilization practices," conditions that under US law require an end to funding, a State Department spokeswoman said.

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Kim Jong-un threatens to restart nuke tests as Trump’s efforts to talk to the regime fall apart again: report

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On Tuesday, CNN's Brian Todd reported that the North Korean regime is on the brink of rescinding what little they promised President Donald Trump, as the future of his efforts to continue talks appear uncertain.

"Kim Jong-un's regime is once again in negotiation by intimidation," said Todd. "Just two weeks after their historic meeting at the DMZ, and President Trump's short stroll into North Korea, North Korea's dictator Kim Jong-un appears to be threatening to start testing his nuclear weapons again. In a new statement, Kim's foreign ministry calls the joint U.S./South Korean military exercises planned for next month a breach of the main spirit of what President Trump and Kim agreed to in Singapore, and says, 'We are gradually losing our justifications to follow through on the commitments we made with the U.S."

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Republican freaks out after Democrat quotes Trump’s racist statement on the floor of Congress

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Chaos continued on the floor of the House of Representatives during the debate on a resolution condemning President Donald Trump's racist attacks on four young women of color.

Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) rose to support the resolution, listing multiple instances of racism from the commander-in-chief.

As part of the list, Swalwell noted Trump's attacks on "sh*thole countries."

After he swore on the floor by quoting the president, Republicans freaked out.

Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA) complained and got in a back-and-forth with Swalwell.

Collins sought to have Swalwell's words stricken from the Congressional Record, which would have banned him from speaking for the rest of the day.

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