Posted at: 12/16/2013 6:23 PM
Updated at: 12/16/2013 6:55 PM
By: Steve Flamisch
ALBANY – Claims that he did nothing to save the General Electric plant in Fort Edward and its nearly 200 jobs are "factually not accurate," Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday.
The union that represents most of the workers had taken out a full-page ad in Sunday’s edition of the Times Union, accusing the governor of "silence" on the coming closure.
"They may not be aware of what was done," Cuomo told a NewsChannel 13 reporter during a question-and-answer session inside the Capitol’s Red Room.
Cuomo said he personally had several conversations with GE about saving the Route 4 capacitor plant. He added, "We were not successful, but we tried."
The governor called the closure and job loss "unfortunate," but he stopped short of criticizing General Electric. His choice of words rankled union leaders.
"By his silence, he’s basically condoning this type of behavior," Peter Knowlton, the regional president of United Electrical, Radio, and Machine Workers of America, told NewsChannel 13.
"They'll talk behind closed doors, but when it comes to challenging them publicly… they don’t do it, which leads us to believe that they really don’t care," Knowlton said.
Knowlton said the only communication from the executive chamber to the union came too late: a call from the lieutenant governor as negotiations were winding down, and a meeting with a deputy secretary after negotiations ended.
Both interactions followed press releases in which the union criticized the governor, Knowlton said.
Cuomo, who called GE "a great employer and a great part of this state," said he understands the union’s resentment.
"Sometimes, when you’re upset, you want to blame somebody," Cuomo said. "I get that… But it’s not the case that we didn’t try."
The plant is scheduled to close no sooner than September 2014.