The Fight To Save GE Jobs Is Not Over
*** For Immediate Release ***
Contact: UE Local 506 President Scott Slawson at 814-899-3108.
Erie, PA — UE Local 506 Officers and UE National Representatives met throughout the day and night during the last scheduled bargaining session with General Electric in an attempt to avert the loss of 572 GE jobs in Erie. No agreement was reached and within 12 hours of the conclusion of bargaining the company announced that it is transferring production of international locomotives and other work to non-union plants in Ft. Worth, Texas and elsewhere.
“This rush to announce the decision shows that GE had no intention of bargaining in good faith to keep work in Erie,” said UE Director of Organization Gene Elk.
UE did the best it could, by offering millions of dollars in wage reductions for newly hired workers and a modified wage schedule for some recalled employees who have been on layoff status. UE Local 506 President Scott Slawson said, “Our offer was very significant and GE rejected it out of hand.”
Throughout 21 bargaining sessions, GE has never wavered in demanding huge wage cuts based upon fabricated savings it claims may be possible if our work is transferred to Ft. Worth and elsewhere. “GE is very profitable in Erie,” the union president said, “but even with its unjustified demands for cuts, the company has only offered to retain 35% of the work we currently perform building international locomotives and parts in Erie.”
Slawson said “GE’s demands do not include any long-term commitments to Erie and even its proposal to keep 35% of the work in Erie expires in June 2019, just eighteen months from now.” The company would then be free to transfer all remaining locomotive manufacturing during the last half of 2019.”
“The State of Pennsylvania has offered GE significant financial assistance to keep our jobs here in Erie,” he said, “but in exchange the Governor insisted upon real company commitments to retain work in Erie over a reasonable period of time, not just 18 months. GE has so far refused Pennsylvania’s offer of assistance because it apparently does not want to commit to Erie.”
“We tried everything we could to get a long-term work commitment from GE but they refused to provide anything longer than 18 months.” Slawson continued, “Like the state of Pennsylvania, UE Local 506 has rejected GE’s wage concessions because we have no intention of funding GE’s transfer of our jobs to Texas and elsewhere.”
Even though bargaining has ended, UE Local 506’s fight to save jobs will continue. We will continue pressuring GE in any way we can to keep our work in Erie. Additionally, charges have been filed with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), claiming that GE violated the law when it issued the transfer notice and negotiated in bad faith during the entirety of the bargaining process which just ended.
An economic impact study commissioned by UE Local 506 in August found that GE's cumulative job transfers since 2013 will result in a total loss of 4,095 jobs across all sectors of the local Erie economy, and 8,124 jobs lost across Pennsylvania. The study can be found on UE Local 506's website, www.uelocal506.com (direct link to PDF)
We thank everyone in the greater Erie community for the overwhelming outpouring of support for our fight to keep good GE jobs here in Erie. This fight is far from over.