GE Appliances will hire between 80 and 90 new employees by the end of the year at its Roper Corp. stove-manufacturing plant in LaFayette, Ga., — and the new workers will work nights.
"By the end of the year, we expect to have between 80 and 90 new people working the third shift," plant spokesman Scott Reece said.
Due to increased demand, the plant last week launched a third shift from Sunday to Thursday. Workers start at 10 p.m. and work until 6:30 a.m.
"The majority of people we polled picked third shift, because it's family-friendly for them," Reece said.
That's because employees can see their kids off for school, he said, sleep during the day, and then see their kids' at night before returning to work.
Some of the new employees will be support for third shift, which means they might work a combination of first or second shift, Reece said.
There's also a 50-cents-an-hour premium for working nights. Starting pay is $12.80 an hour for third shift, Reece said, compared to $12.30 an hour for day shift.
The Roper plant currently has about 1,750 employees who make GE's newest line of electric and gas cooktops, freestanding ranges and electric wall ovens. That's the highest number of employees in years, Reece said.
Consumers are buying more new homes and replacing old appliances in existing houses to swell cooking appliance sales this year to the highest level since before the Great Recession in 2009-2010.
Sales of ovens, ranges and other cooking appliances jumped in August by 15.3 percent over sales a year ago, according to shipments tracked by the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers. In the first eight months of 2015, appliance makers shipped almost more than 49.3 million ovens, stoves, ranges and other cooking appliances, up 7.5 percent above the same period a year earlier.
"Consumers are clearly responding favorably to our investment in our cooking products. Sales are growing and, in turn, so are American jobs," said Paul Surowiec, product general manager-cooking, for GE Appliances.
Sweden's AB Electrolux, which makes Frigidaire, Tappan and Kenmore appliances, is poised to buy GE Appliances for $3.3 billion. However, the U.S. Department of Justice is suing to stop the proposed sale on the grounds that it would concentrate market share too much. There's a chance that the government may settle out of court.
Roper Corp. officials believe the sale to Electrolux will go through and will further boost production at the LaFayette plant, said Walker County Development Authority Executive Director Larry Brooks.
"They fully expect the purchase by Electrolux is going to happen," Brooks said. "They're anticipating an increased demand — especially once the merger takes place. The more jobs, the better for Walker County."
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