Many of the soon-to-be laid off 575 General Electric Oil and Gas workers at the casting facility in Lufkin and the manufacturing plant in Buck Creek have been issued a "benefits letter" that has many concerned.
The "Full Layoff Benefit Release" form says --if signed—it would release G-E of all claims after their employment ends.
A clause in the first paragraph says "If I choose not to sign this Release, I will not be entitled to any layoff benefits."
The language has sparked some to seek clarity from Lufkin attorney Mike Love.
"We've had several employees come by our office and asked us to review the release they were given by GE," Love shared.
He said for the several workers who has consulted his law practice in downtown Lufkin, he clarified for them the difference between what they are entitled to and what's in the release form.
"Unemployment benefits are separate from anything or any layoff benefit GE pays," Love said.
To be clear Love is saying signing the form should not affect worker's ability to receive unemployment benefits. He said it seems GE's language of waiving rights in this contract protects the company rather than the workers in any possible future litigation for further compensation.
The Deep East Texas Work Force Solutions based in Lufkin could not comment on this type of release. And they referred us to its headquarters in Austin.
Lisa Givens, of TWC Communications in the state capital, responded in an email that "It would not be appropriate to comment on individual employer contracts."
G-E spokeswoman Laura Bauer responded with a one-sentence email stating, "It is our policy that we do not comment on personnel matters."
For the employees who met with attorney Love, it's a matter of respect.
"It was really upsetting to me personally. Legal issues aside, this doesn't seem the right way to treat employees that have been loyal employees for a long time."
Overall, GE's "Oil and Gas" unit employs about 44-thousand workers. It announced in February it was cutting 500 workers in Angelina County. That number increased to 575 near the end of March.