Union reacts to Erie chamber’s letter on GE proposal

Local News

The Erie Regional Chamber and Growth Partnership expressed their hope for the future for GE Transportation by writing an open letter to the community, but the union wants to know why they were not part of the discussion.

In an open letter to the community the Erie Regional Chamber and Growth Partnership urged GE union leaders to take another look at the companies latest proposal and present it to the membership for a vote.

GE said its offering would save 59 of 181 impacted jobs, with plans to create 150 new jobs, but at a lower wage

In the letter, the chamber said the GE contract talks is the most “pressing issue facing our community today.”

The letter was formed after concern on GE’s future from local businesses.

GE union members said they don’t vote on proposals, only agreements, and at this point they have no agreement.

“We feel that the future of the workforce, those who want to be at GE for 15-20 years, is critical,” said Barbara Chaffee of the Erie Regional Chamber and Growth Partnership. “We’d really like to see a vote, but we understand the difference between an agreement and proposal.”

“The union has their procedures, but I think as a community we look at it and think we’d really like to see all of the effected people be able to weigh in on this,” Erie Mayor Joe Sinnott said.

GE union members are reacting, saying they shouldn’t have published the letter without both sides of the story

“They took one side,” President of UE Local 506 Scott Slawson said. “(They) acted upon it irresponsibly, failed to contact the union and sit down with us to understand why we didn’t come to an agreement.”

Slawson believes the chamber should have asked why they didn’t take the proposal to union members.

The biggest sticking point was wages.

Slawson said recalled workers are looking at a 40 percent cut, which he said is unacceptable.

“I challenge the community, who would be acceptable to take a 40 percent cut in wages, do what you are doing for a very profitable business that’s not failing in any capacity,” Slawson said. 

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