Wabtec takes its message directly to union workers today. That message? Without wage concessions for new employees, work planned for Erie could go elsewhere.
Day 40 in a three month negotiating window and so far, the numbers aren’t adding up for Wabtec and former GE union members.
The company sending an open letter to workers, saying a two-tier pay scale is essential to the company’s success in Erie. A difference of $13 an hour between the proposed new starting pay rate of $22 an hour and existing workers who make an average of $35.
One of the points the company is trying to make is that all current employees would stay at the same wage, even if laid off and called back later. The only employees that would be impacted by a new, lower wage would be new hires.
But, union leadership argues even the current wages still made GE a lot of money and admit a bumpy train ride still lies ahead.
UE Local 506 President Scott Slawson says, “It’s a complex process, it’s a first contract with a new employer; this isn’t a matter of getting slight changes or moderations to an existing contract, this is an entirely new contract so…”
A train ride the company says has two possible tracks; one leading to more work, and more workers and Erie; the other seeing the work leave for other destinations.
Wabtec Senior Vice President Greg Sbrocco told us, “The one thing that’s absolutely certain is things will not stay the same. It will not stay the same. It’s either going to be one direction or the other. It’s that simple.”
A simple choice that may require a complex solution.