GE Union Workers Stay Positive and Keep Working
Last year GE said it would move all locomotive production from Erie to its Forth Worth, Texas plant, but locomotives are still being produced at the local plant.
Along with that move, 570 jobs were supposed to be transferred out of Erie beginning March 1, 2018. Instead, union officials confirm that 200 employees have been called back to work.
UE 506 President Scott Slawson admits some of the union members called back are filling the jobs of retirees, it calls that net neutral. But he is encouraged. “It’s encouraging that we are bringing people back to work, but we still have 845 out there awaiting recall and we’re doing everything we can to get them brought back to work, it’s good for their families and the community,” Slawson said.
Slawson said the complexity of some of the foreign locomotive orders is something Fort Worth is not quite ready for yet. The Texas plant is also busy with orders, to rebuild older locomotives.
The company has not given any indication that it won’t follow through on the plans to move the work south. But it’s unclear how long they will be in the transportation business. There is plenty of speculation in business and trade publications that GE will sell off its transportation division, possibly to Wabtec, in a 7-billion-dollar deal.
With a year to go on their existing contract with the company, the union said most workers are staying positive, in the face of all the uncertainty.
"I will tell you by and large you know, a lot of our members have been very good about remaining positive and continuing to go in there every day and give their all to make it better for all of us,” Slawson said. “I mean, as we produce and put out work in a high quality and safe manner, it just gives them one more reason to put work in our factory.”