Local economist discusses Wabtec and union dispute

Local News

As tension continues between union leadership at  General Electric’s Erie plant and the company Wabtec, a strike could be happening this saturday.

Wabtec is expected to close the deal on buying the Erie GE plant on Monday, but workers want to negotiate the deals of their contract before anything is finalized. Multiple unions including UE Locals 506, 618 and the National Union have negotiated with Wabtec for a replacement contract, but on social media the unions say Wabtec wants large concessions. It’s said that Wabtec wants to lower wages to employees coming in to the company.
There are signs that the unions want to have a show of strength to prove to the new company they are serious. They have collected letters of support from other unions working with Wabtec. A vote by workers to authorize leadership to call a strike saturday would be another step in that campaign.

Economist Ken Louie says this despite the two parties disagreement, if Wabtec did not look to buy the GE plant then more jobs would be lost.  He added that it is disappointing to hear that lower wages could be offered because of the tradition of high wages with manufacturing jobs. “Economic circumstances are probably very different today compared to years past, so it’s a difficult situation for both sides and probably the best course of action would be to try and seek a compromise,” said Dr. Louie, Director of Economic Research Institute of Erie. 

Wabtec did respond to this situation and you can see that full statement here.

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