Five unions representing Wabtec workers from across the globe have written letters to Wabtec CEO Rafael Santana expressing their solidarity with the members of UE Locals 506 and 618, and demanding that the company settle a fair contract at its locomotive plant in Erie, PA.
Unifor National President Lana Payne, on behalf of her union's 315,000 members across Canada, told Santana “It is troubling to hear from our brothers, sisters, and counterparts at UE that your company ... continues to demonstrate contempt for the very workers that work every day to ensure that Wabtec’s business continues to prosper and succeed. According to your own most recent annual report, Wabtec saw a 7% increase in sales in 2022, reaching $8.36 billion compared to 2021, while company profits increased 13% to $565 million. It is only through the labour of your skilled workforce have these gains been made possible.”
Andrew Dettmer, National President of the Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union, blasted Wabtec’s “union busting”: “Your attorneys are litigating every grievance, demanding arbitration rather than sorting problems out on the shop floor. Worse, these self same attorneys are then challenging the decisions of the arbitrator when they don’t like the result.” He emphasized AMWU’s support for the UE locals’ demand for the right to strike over grievances, “a simple step” that would allow disputes to be “resolved quickly, by people in the plant, and without involving expensive lawyers.”
From Europe, CCOO Industria, which represents Wabtec workers in Spain, and the Italian metalworkers’ union FIOM-CGIL, a long-time UE ally, both sent letters to the Wabtec CEO expressing their support for UE members’ demands, including specifically the right to strike. From South America, Brazilian metalworkers’ union CNM-CUT sent a letter declaring “All solidarity from the CNM/CUT and its unions to Locals 506 and 618 of the UE! Your fight is our fight.”