Potential Impact of GE Job Eliminations - WICU12 HD WSEE Erie, PA News, Sports, Weather and Events

Potential Impact of GE Job Eliminations

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"Erie, PA is a manufacturing hub, and will remain as a manufacturing hub and supply chain of engineering."

Those are the words of GE Transportation CEO Lorenzo Simonelli last May, when he announced that the company will be moving its headquarters to Chicago. 

Now, not even a year later, the company has decided to eliminate over 900 positions right
here in Erie.  Most of the work will be moved to Fort Worth, Texas.

So how did the company get to this point?

"That's a hard question to answer," said Penn State Behrend Economics Professor Dr. James Kurre.  "The world is getting increasingly competitive."

According to Dr. Kurre, the move will have a massive impact on the local economy.

"GE has a lot of local suppliers and to the extent that they cut the demands for their local suppliers, they can cut sales to their local suppliers, and those other companies can get hit too," said Dr. Kurre.  "So we could see a ripple effect."

According to the company, the amount of cuts will be based on the labor negotiations with the union.

"Labor is certainly going to be a big component of their cost," said Dr. Kurre.  "So it's not surprising they're looking to do production of locomotives in places where they can cut their labor cost."

While it will take several months to find out the true impact this will have on the Erie community, Erie County Council members have concerns.

"It's devastating to this county in many ways," said Erie County Councilman Fiore Leone.  "Obviously, we're going to lose 900 employees and I don't know where they're going to go to work.  It's becoming more and more of a problem here in Erie County."

Council Chairman Joe Giles agrees.

"They've (GE) been very good stewards historically within the community," said Giles.  "We hope that they keep that in mind, their roots that are here, and their commitment as we move forward."

According to Dr. Kurre, it's not all doom and gloom.

"Some good pieces of news that could come out of this, is that other local employers are now going to have a pool of skilled workers coming out of GE, that they can draw on," said Dr. Kurre.  "While this won't be good for the workers, it may help some Erie firms with their growth prospects."

But whether that's the case, only time will tell.

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