Time is running out for contract negotiations between officials at Wabtec and UE Local 506 members.
“We’ve been watching this very, very closely because it has such dramatic, potential harmful impacts to our community if they can’t reach an agreement,” said James Grunke, CEO, Erie Regional Chamber and Growth Partnership.
The CEO of the Regional Chamber and Growth Partnership, James Grunke, says Wabtec and union workers are not the only stockholders in this situation. He added the Erie Community also has a vested interest in what happens in these negotiations as well. “We recently did an economic impact study and we found, if the 1,700 jobs were eliminated, the production jobs there that would cause another 5,100 jobs to be lost in our community,” said Grunke.
Union workers say wages have been a sore point as Wabtec proposed a two-tier system that would mean new employees would be paid a lower rate than current employees.
Matt McCracken has been an employee at Wabtec, formerly known as GE for about 40 years. He says he’s never had to deal with negotiations like this before. “We rather be in there working, all they’ve got to do is give us what we already have, and we’ll be in there making a lot of money for them and making a lot of money for us,” said McCracken, UE Local 506 member.
The latest statement from Wabtec reads in part: “The union’s existing stance on critical issues, including wages and benefits, is putting the preservation of jobs at the Erie plant in jeopardy.”
Meanwhile, James Grunke says he is hoping both parties reach a conclusion that is beneficial for the community as well. As we get more information about the progress of the negotiations, we will keep you updated on JET 24 Action News and Yourerie.com.