A step back in time: Looking at the 1969 General Electric union strike
(ERIE, P.A. - WICU/WSEE/CW) – At the Lawrence Park Historical Society, you can find over 100 years of history in their archives.
And you can't look anywhere around the space without spotting the word's "General Electric.”
The company had been a mainstay in the community since it first opened in the early 1900s. And right alongside it, have been the unions supporting their workers.
"This is a union town." Secretary at the Lawrence Park Historical Society Jim Van Dyne said
But when it comes to the now 50-year old GE union strike, the most the historical society could find was a few pages from books, a collection of pictures and old newspaper printouts.
"I was surprised at how little we had on that." said Van Dyne
While there might not have been many pictures, they still help to tell some of the story. But, to hear from someone who lived it first-hand, we had a phone interview with former 36-year GE employee Matt DeForce.
"Well, it wasn't good." DeForce said
DeForce worked as a rigger at the former GE plant, and had just recently moved to the area when the nation-wide strike started in late October of 1969.
He says he and fellow workers would picket in shifts, spending hours in the cold, all to push for better wages and benefits.
"You just try to better your family." said DeForce
102, days later, the strike ended, and DeForce says, their mission was accomplished.
"Yeah, it was worth it." said DeForce
Now, fast forward to 2019, with the plant under new owners, and a strike, which DeForce says is much different.
He feels the current situation with Wabtec is more unfair than it was 50 years ago, which is why he and other former workers are showing their support.
"You have to stand up, you can't just let people push you under and run over you." DeForce said
And as for documenting what will one day be another piece of history, the historical society will be ready.
"We’re going to take some of the newspaper clippings from the past few days, and put it in a binder." said Van Dyne
So we can look back, in 2069.
DeForce told us he’ll soon be making his way out to the plant to drop off some donated goods to the workers.