GE workers find strength together
Men focusing on blessings, but disappointed by company’s decision

By Katherine Michalets - Freeman Staff

Oct. 2, 2015

Eddie Dellis discusses a passage in the Bible with Joe Balistreri, center, and Joe Dellis on Wednesday at Café Bistro. Eddie Dellis and Balistreri learned Monday that their jobs will be eliminated at GE Power & Water Distributed Power. Joe Dellis works for the Kettle Moraine School District.  
Katherine Michalets/Freeman Staff

WAUKESHA - Just days after learning that they will be laid off from GE Power & Water Distributed Power, a group of men held their regular Bible study at Café Bistro and talked about being thankful for what they have.

Eddie Dellis said since he heard the news Monday that in the next 18 to 32 months he would be out of a job when GE moves manufacturing small gas engines from Waukesha to Canada, he has been focusing on words from Jeremiah 29:11: “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’”

He said it was helpful Wednesday afternoon to read about God and how he works in our lives. Now, it’s about “putting into action what we have learned,” he said.

“How are we going to use it? How are we going to glorify God through it?” Dellis said.

GE Power & Water Distributed Power employee Eddie Dellis discusses a passage in the Bible with his study group Wednesday in Waukesha.  
Katherine Michalets/Freeman Staff

For 27 years, Dellis worked at GE, formerly Dresser and Waukesha Engine, and said the company affected the community in a great way by allowing people to provide for their families by paying them good wages, which in turn benefited the area’s schools and children.

Dellis’ co-worker, Gary, who didn’t wish to provide his last name because he is not represented by a union like the other workers meeting Wednesday, said “We need to be able to feel fortunate” and look forward at what can be done to prepare for an uncertain future.

Although the men gathered around the table Wednesday tried to remain upbeat, they were still upset by GE’s decision to close the manufacturing facility in Waukesha.

Joe Balistreri said the company began in Waukesha 110 years ago, but it only took GE four years to “dismantle it and move it out of the country.”

The men said they will continue to take pride in what they do and there is a strong work ethic among the employees at GE Power & Water Distributed Power.

GE Power & Water Distributed Power employees Jeff Jakueiak, left, and Howard Hockenberry discuss the Bible on Wednesday afternoon with other GE employees.  
Katherine Michalets/Freeman Staff

Jeff Jakueiak said when the company held recognitions for people who had not missed a day of work, the room would be filled.

The men also acknowledged they knew it was possible that GE might decide to close down the facility, but they said they were still take aback by Monday’s announcement.

Gary said they are waiting to hear about what kind of severance package they will be given.

Dellis and the other men said they felt GE made promises to be part of the community and to support them, but ultimately let down the 350 workers who will lose their jobs. They also questioned how stable the jobs are for the 200 to 250 support and engineering staff that will remain in Waukesha.

Going forward, Gary said he wants to be example to other GE workers by showing the faith he is finding in the Bible.

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