The name, ‘GE’ is embedded into Erie’s history, but the signage is already changing in Lawrence Park just hours after a merger is set in stone.
Jackie Roberts spoke to executives within the newly combined company.
The deal comes as employees still threaten to strike, calling the terms and conditions of the merger unacceptable. But now, Wabtec representatives say they’re hoping to move forward together.
For generations, General Electric was the leading employer in Erie County, but after more than 100 years in operation, GE signs are coming down; Wabtec branding taking their place.
Wabtec executives are calling the day historic, closing on its $11 billion deal with GE Transportation.
Alan Hamilton, Wabtec Systems Engineering GM, says, “Now, it’s basically two companies; Wabtec and GE Transportation, as a Fortune 500, focused intently on a customer base for transportation using all our resources, all our energy, all our innovation, to focus on the transportation industry and so, we’re gonna be really a force to be reckoned with.”
Company officials have expectations of bringing in revenues of more than $8 billion in 2019. However, UE Local 506 members are not yet on board, saying in a written statement, “Despite our best efforts, Wabtec/GE negotiators refused to respond to our latest proposal and walked away from negotiations on Sunday putting its entire hourly workforce in an impossible, and potentially dangerous situation.”
But, executives say they’re optimistic they can come to an agreement. They tell us along with the change comes new opportunity.
Greg Sbrocco, Wabtec Exellence VP, tells us, “It’s a new chapter for the Erie community. It’s a new chapter for a lot of that have been a part of GE for a number of years and we’re excited about the future and to be honest, regarding the Erie plant itself here, I’m ready to put the past behind us a little bit and look forward to going forward collectively together.”
Sbrocco says they’re looking for things like market-based wages and overtime modifications to make this site more competitive on the global scale.
Although it is technically a merger, the name moving forward is just, ‘Wabtec’.