The union workers out on the line tell us they are fighting to protect their wages, benefits and more. They wanted to stress that this was not a strike.
This informational picket comes as ongoing negotiations are happening between UE Local 506 members and Wabtec regarding contracts. The bargaining deadline fo the two parties is on June 3rd. In February, Wabtec or Westinghouse Air Brake Technologies Corp. bought GE Transportation. Nine days later, the unionized workforce went on strike because they believed their contracts were unfair. “We’re just out here trying to protect everything we worked for, for 80 years. We don’t want to give it up, we want to maintain what we have,” said Craig Krol, UE Local 506 member.
Both sides eventually agreed to end the lock out and return to the bargaining table for a 90-day period. One thing that has been causing this rift with union workers is Wabtec’s proposal to pay new hire a lower rate then current employees.
Wabtec released a statement regarding the negotiations and it reads:
“With only 6 days remaining under the interim agreement, Wabtec and the UE 506 and 618 remain far apart on the core issues. Today’s meeting once again made clear that there are stark differences between the Company and Union views for the future of the Erie plant. Wabtec proposals to improve plant efficiency and reduce unnecessary costs were rejected by the Union. Most shocking was the Union’s continued insistence that it be able to strike at any time during the term of a new contract.
Wabtec has been very transparent, and we have made significant movement issues the UE said they went on strike for. We have committed that there will be: no mandatory overtime. We have proposed a long-term wage progression to allow new hires to grow into current hourly wage rates rather than a 2-tier wage, recall rights for up to three years based on seniority, and continuing overtime premium pay after 8 hours / double time after 12 hours.
Despite these efforts, the lack of engagement from the Union to discuss meaning proposals that keeps work in Erie and brings new work to this site is stifling successful negotiations. Too much is at risk for the Erie plant if we can’t reach a contract, and hundreds of high-paying manufacturing jobs across Erie will be lost. We urge the Union to reach an agreement. Our current proposal offers high wages, meaningful benefits, safe working conditions and rewarding work that will benefit our employees and this community. It is time to move forward together.”