The importance of rank-and-file political action was made clear on Monday afternoon at the UE Local 506 hall in Erie, as members of Locals 506 and 618 and other Erie unions packed into the hall to hear Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf, who the members of Local 506 have endorsed for re-election.
“When push comes to shove, Governor Wolf shows up” for workers, declared Local 506 President Scott Slawson. “In 2016, GE announced it would be transferring work from Erie to other locations. The governor sent the executive deputy secretary of the Department of Labor to our doorstep to offer the assistance of the state.”
“When the company made it clear they were not interested in anything the state could offer, Governor Wolf then switched gears to commit the state’s efforts towards helping with job loss benefits associated with the transfer … The governor put his resources into helping our members through this difficult time ensuring our laid off workers got their unemployment and TRA [Trade Readjustment Allowance] payments. For that we thank him.”
While Wolf was helping UE members getting unemployment insurance, his opponent, Slawson charged, rallied other anti-worker politicians in the PA State Senate “to block necessary funding for the state’s unemployment compensation fund, creating unnecessary hardship for those in a time of need.”
Wolf spoke about the difference that organized labor has made in the state and in the community he grew up in, especially by protecting the right of public-sector workers to do their jobs and advocate for the public good. “If you want a strong economy, then you have to do the right thing,” Wolf said, by supporting livable wages, good benefits, and workers’ right to organize.
Wolf’s opponent has been an outspoken foe of unions, supporting “right to work for less” legislation to weaken unions and suggesting that “If we laid off ten percent of the teachers in the state of Pennsylvania, we’d never miss them.”
"I'm honored to receive the endorsement of UE 506," said Governor Wolf. "When General Electric announced massive layoffs last year, UE 506 worked tirelessly to ensure that their members were treated as fairly as possible. I look forward to continuing to work with UE 506 to advocate for the hardworking families of Pennsylvania and to protect Pennsylvanians’ ability to fight for higher wages, good benefits, and worker protections."
Prior to the rally, Wolf discussed the upcoming merger of GE Transportation and Wabtec with the officers of Locals 506 and 618 and UE Director of Organization Gene Elk.