Wabtec granted waiver to continue operations

Local News

Enforcement actions continue for businesses still operating after being told to shut down by State and County officials in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19.

The Health Department made a visit to 10 local businesses today. With that in mind, the state will allow train-making giant Wabtec to stay open for now.

There are concerns however that more should be done to limit the risk of contracting COVID-19 at the Erie plant.

In the midst of the pandemic, Wabtec will keep working, but is the company working hard enough to keep it’s employees?

The State of Pennsylvania has granted Wabtec a waiver to continue operations due to their work being a life sustaining business.

“They provided some excuses for as to why they should receive the waiver. I personally disagree. I know some management there disagrees as well as many of the workers,” said Representative Ryan Bizzarro, (D) 3rd Legislative District.

The company released the following statement.

“Rail is critical in this global fight against COVID-19, and Wabtec along with the railroads, our suppliers and even our competitors must be ready to help the industry deliver the equipment and supplies it so desperately needs to support a recovery.”

This statement raises some concerns for union workers health.

“If you look at Wabtecs workforce and somebody got infected there and continue to spread even if 10 to 15% of their workforce got infected, that would decimate our hospital system, said Bizzarro.

“We have concerns that we can provide a safe environment for all the employees in that plant right now. We are fighting an invisible enemy and it’s difficult,” said Scott Slawson, President of UE Local 506.

Slawson further explaining that right now the union is working with Wabtec in order to figure out what corrections could be made inside.

“We want to see access limited in the plant, extremely limited to only necessary personnel. We want to restrict deliveries in to the plant and way they come into the plant to minimize the impact,” said Slawson.

There is no indication of if and when these changes will be made.

In light of the outbreak, Wabtec states they have increased protocols for employee safety. They say this includes extra cleaning and training.

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