UE Local 506 workers take to the streets saying what they want is a fair contract.
Former GE employees brave the cold temperatures to prove a point, but they say they did not ask for this fight.
Just one day after Wabtec solidifies its merger with GE, union workers go on strike, saying they won’t settle when it comes to a fair contract.
Members of Local UE 506 wanted to negotiate a short term agreement that preserves the wages, benefits and working conditions.
Scott Slawson, Local UE 506 President, says, “We have companies that are not struggling, corporations that aren’t struggling; they’re giving their CEOs and their boards record bonuses. The companies are making record profits but they keep stripping from the American workers and at some point, the American workforce has to take a stand and say we’ve had enough of this.”
And, at this point, there’s no end in sight. Union workers say they’ll continue to strike until Wabtec meets the terms and conditions they’re comfortable with.
Slawson says, “It’s gonna create hardships for people and we’re equipped to deal with those hardships and we will deal with those hardships. We will help our members in any way possible but you see it’s a cold day out there. There’s 1700 families right now, in this community, sitting out on a picket line because Wabtec will not honor a 30-day agreement.”
But, executives with the now-combined company say all other former GE Transportation unions have ratified new contracts with Wabtec.
A written statement reads in part, “The terms and conditions would improve the Erie site’s cost structure and position the plant for greater flexibility and potential growth. It also would enable the Erie team and the business to better compete in today’s global market.”
Wabtec’s full statement:
“We are disappointed by the Union’s decision to walkout. We attempted to reach an agreement with the UE 506 executive board that is competitive with industry standards and in-line with our other Wabtec union sites — including our plant in Wilmerding, PA. All other former GE Transportation unions have ratified new contracts with Wabtec. The terms and conditions would improve the Erie site’s cost structure and position the plant for greater flexibility and potential growth. It also would enable the Erie team and the business to better compete in today’s global market. Unfortunately, we were unable to find a mutually agreeable resolution.
No one ever benefits from a walkout. Employees lose wages and the company’s ability to deliver products to customers on time is jeopardized. Wabtec looks forward to returning to normal operations. We are proud to be an active community partner in Erie that offers our employees highly desirable jobs, benefits and retirement benefits.”
Local UE 506’s Full Statement:
“UE Local 506 and 618 worked long into Tuesday morning and were not able to convince the company to negotiate an acceptable short term agreement that preserves the wages, benefits, and working conditions of GE/Wabtec employees.
We are extremely disappointed that the company could not see its way to agree to continue the terms and conditions that we have worked under for decades. Their refusal leaves us with no choice but to go out on strike to protect our and our children’s future.