A stunning blow to the local economy came Thursday.

GE Transportation announcing plans to layoff 575 union workers and stop production of locomotives at the Lawrence Park plant.

Company leaders say both domestic and international orders are way down.

GE Transportation Vice-President of Global Supply Chain Richard Simpson  said, "While this is an incredibly tough announcement, it is done on the backdrop of the worst locomotive market we have seen in a generation."

UE Local 506 President Scott Slawson said the announcement is more than tough, it is devastating.

He said, "I think there is frustration, anger not just for the membership. I would think there is going to be a frustration in the community as well."

But company leaders say they have been frustrated trying to cut costs at the Erie plant.

And that is another reason for  the decision to move the locomotive production to Fort Worth, Texas, while laying off local workers.

Simpson said, "We have been unable to fix the systemic cost issues."

Union leaders don't buy the argument.

Slawson said, "GE is taking a direct shot at its union which it normally does."

Right now the plan to stop production of locomotives and layoff the workers remains just a plan.

The union could ask for decision bargaining to try to hammer out a compromise.

But if the plan does move forward only about 2,000 employees would remain at the local plant, 900 union workers, and 1100 non-union employees.

GE says the local plant will remain open and used to design, engineer and develop new prototypes and make components.

Simpson said, "This is about transforming this campus into a state-of-the-art engineering and innovation center for GE Transportation."

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