The deadline passes, and no agreement is reached in the effort to keep jobs at the GE plant in Lawrence Park.
News release from UE Local 506, released at midnight:
UE Local 506 Officers and UE National Representatives met throughout the day and night during the last scheduled bargaining session with GE in an attempt to avert the loss of 572 GE jobs. No agreement was reached and the company will likely announce in the next few days that it is transferring production of international locomotives and other work to Ft. Worth and elsewhere.
UE did the best it could, by offering millions of dollars in progressive wage reductions for newly hired workers and a modified wage progression 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 proposals 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.
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.
At this time, GE Transportation has not issued a statement.