GE Pride - Generations Await Decision on Jobs - WICU12 HD WSEE Erie, PA News, Sports, Weather and Events

GE Pride - Generations Await Decision on Jobs

Posted: Updated:

The end of "decision bargaining" talks between GE Transportation and its union workers is just about a month away. Employees are holding their breath for the outcome and hoping to minimize the blow of the company's stated plan to move 1,000 jobs and shift the production of the Evolution series locomotive and mining equipment to Fort Worth Texas. 

It's not just the current work force waiting to hear the outcome of the talks.  Thousands of Erie people who built their lives and careers while designing and building GE locomotives, parts and other products are waiting too.  You might call them GE's greatest generation and they are concerned about the company.

"I'd hoped when I heard about the Texas plant initially that this was going to be a way of balancing the volume of work, that there'd be enough of an increase of volume of this type of manufacturing that we would need a second facility," said Don Adams, a GE retiree with 42 years of service at the plant. 

Like many generations of local GE employees, Adams got his start with the company through the GE apprentice program.  He moved from machining to drafting, to design drafting and into management at the company, earning a couple of patents along the way.  "I was an apprentice on the low end of the totem pole, worked my way up through a management position and now I'm a stockholder in the company and I've been in the union so I have kind of the whole picture over time," said Adams. 

Adams' father, an engineer at GE, was involved in starting the apprentice program at the plant. Don Adams not only was trained in the apprentice program, he went on to teach drafting in it.  And he taught other young employees through the company's night school.  One of his students, Ken Berlin went on to become foreman of final assembly at the plant and then manager of light fabrication, the division that made the exterior of the locomotives.  "I started on the apprentice program, finished GE night school, took advantage of their college program," said Berlin. At that time if you wanted to go to college and got your grades, they'd pay 100% of your technical courses." Berlin received his college degree from Gannon, with General Electric paying for his tuition.

According to Berlin, GE workers heard talk about jobs going to Texas for years, but didn't take it seriously.  "There used to be a sign down in that area, future home of the GE locomotive that people used to come back and show, the billboard that they used to have in the '70's and '80's, we used to just laugh about it, but uh, it's serious now."

Berlin has a son and granddaughter working at the Erie GE plant now, he's concerned about the future of the company he helped to build.  "It's very sad when you see the top management leave Erie...before top management was kind of homegrown, now they're in Chicago, so they don't have the same commitment, I believe," said Berlin.

Lawrence Park is watching closely too.  Historian Marge McLean knows better than most people that General Electric literally built the town for its employees to live in. "GE founded Lawrence Park, it was their plan to build a community for their workers that would essentially be a garden community, where they would have a boulevard, green space to separate the company from the town."  But McLean says Lawrence Park's connection to the community is shrinking.  At one time 18,000 people worked at GE, that number has dwindled to 5,000 over the decades. According to township estimates, only 5% of the people who live in Lawrence Park work at the company.

Adams hopes the company weighs very heavily the value of the human element in its decisions. "The families that have worked at the company, these skills kind of pass on from generation to generation, the work ethic passes on and the pride in this company, the pride in making a good product, there's just no price tag that you can put on that."

(Don Adams is the father of Reporter/Anchor Lisa Adams.  Lisa worked packing parts at a GE warehouse one summer in the 1970's when she was college student.)

Submit your event now
  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Pa State Police Fight Lawsuit

    Pa State Police Fight Lawsuit

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 10:45 PM EDT2014-07-31 02:45:27 GMT
    Pennsylvania State Police are now fighting a lawsuit brought by the U.S. Department of Justice, that basically says the way they hire is sexist.More >>
    Pennsylvania State Police are now fighting a lawsuit brought by the U.S. Department of Justice, that basically says the way they hire is sexist.More >>
  • A Look Behind Jamestown Drug Operations

    A Look Behind Jamestown Drug Operations

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 11:29 PM EDT2014-07-31 03:29:50 GMT
    As new information is released on drug arrests in Jamestown, New York, we take a look behind some of the crimes, and it seems to be a wide web of dealers. More >>
    As new information is released on drug arrests in Jamestown, New York, we take a look behind some of the crimes, and it seems to be a wide web of dealers. More >>
  • Daylight Reveals Scene of Tragic Canoeing Accident

    Daylight Reveals Scene of Tragic Canoeing Accident

    Tuesday, July 29 2014 11:27 AM EDT2014-07-29 15:27:44 GMT
    The waters of Lake Erie have claimed two lives in less than a week. The latest incident, a canoeing trip that turned tragic in western Erie County.More >>
    The waters of Lake Erie have claimed two lives in less than a week. The latest incident, a canoeing trip that turned tragic in western Erie County.
    More >>
  • Police Conduct Drug Sweep to Combat Heroin Problem in Jamestown

    Police Conduct Drug Sweep to Combat Heroin Problem in Jamestown

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 5:20 PM EDT2014-07-30 21:20:22 GMT
    Over 40 people are in jail after a major drug sweep in Jamestown, New York this morning. The effort is the result of a year-long investigation to combat a big heroin problem in that city.More >>
    Over 40 people are in jail after a major drug sweep in Jamestown, New York this morning. The effort is the result of a year-long investigation to combat a big heroin problem in that city.
    More >>
  • Man Ejected from Truck in Harborcreek Twp. Accident

    Man Ejected from Truck in Harborcreek Twp. Accident

    Monday, July 28 2014 6:32 PM EDT2014-07-28 22:32:32 GMT
    A man was ejected from his truck in a one-vehicle accident, late this afternoon.More >>
    A man was ejected from his truck in a one-vehicle accident, late this afternoon.More >>
  • Missing Spartansburg Woman Found

    Missing Spartansburg Woman Found

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 10:14 PM EDT2014-07-31 02:14:54 GMT
    A missing Spartansburg woman has been found unharmed in North Carolina. State Police tell us they are working with the North Carolina Highway Patrol to get 77 year old Donna Lee Kemp home to her family. She was last seen Tuesday, when she left to go to the Titusville library, but never came back. No other details about how she was found have been released.More >>
    A missing Spartansburg woman has been found unharmed in North Carolina. State Police tell us they are working with the North Carolina Highway Patrol to get 77 year old Donna Lee Kemp home to her family. She was last seen Tuesday, when she left to go to the Titusville library, but never came back. No other details about how she was found have been released.More >>
  • Fish and Boat Commission Investigates Deadly Canoe Accident

    Fish and Boat Commission Investigates Deadly Canoe Accident

    Tuesday, July 29 2014 7:45 PM EDT2014-07-29 23:45:51 GMT
    The PA Fish and Boat Commission is investigating the circumstances of a deadly canoe accident on Elk Creek Monday night. Waterways Conservation Officer Brook Tolbert says the waters of Elk Creek were high because of heavy rains on Sunday. Tolbert said 53-year old Michael Kohler, and 33-year-old Matthew Kaliszewski were riding that high water when they got into difficulty. Tolbert said they did many things right, including wearing their life jackets, but their trip still ended tragically. The ...More >>
    The PA Fish and Boat Commission is investigating the circumstances of a deadly canoe accident on Elk Creek Monday night. Waterways Conservation Officer Brook Tolbert says the waters of Elk Creek were high because of heavy rains on Sunday. Tolbert said 53-year old Michael Kohler, and 33-year-old Matthew Kaliszewski were riding that high water when they got into difficulty. Tolbert said they did many things right, including wearing their life jackets, but their trip still ended tragically. The ...More >>
  • Drowning Victim Never Reported Missing By Companions

    Drowning Victim Never Reported Missing By Companions

    Monday, July 28 2014 7:16 PM EDT2014-07-28 23:16:32 GMT
    Authorities know more now about the tragic drowning of a teen in Presque Isle Bay. It apparently happened last Thursday, when the boy was in the water with friends, but he was never reported missing. As 12News/SEENews first reported on the weekend, the victim surfaced Saturday morning near the mouth of Cascade Creek. The body of the teen was discovered by fishermen. The coroner identified the victim as 17-year-old Prem Thapa, a Bhutanese immigrant and a student at East High School. We've lear...More >>
    Authorities know more now about the tragic drowning of a teen in Presque Isle Bay. It apparently happened last Thursday, when the boy was in the water with friends, but he was never reported missing. As 12News/SEENews first reported on the weekend, the victim surfaced Saturday morning near the mouth of Cascade Creek. The body of the teen was discovered by fishermen. The coroner identified the victim as 17-year-old Prem Thapa, a Bhutanese immigrant and a student at East High School. We've lear...More >>
Powered by WorldNow
3514 State St. Erie, PA 16508
Newsroom: (814)454-8812
Toll Free: 1(800)454-8812
Business offices: (814)454-5201
WICU FCC Filing
WSEE FCC Filing
Share:
Share Stories
Submit your stories to our site!
Share Photos
Share your photos in our community galleries
Mobile:
Mobile Site
Be sure to stay constantly updated with the power of WICU12 and WSEE at your fingertips
Free Android App
Free iPhone App
Free iPad App
Storm Tracker App
Droid
iPhone
iPad
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and WICU. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.
                   WICU/WSEE - 3514 State Street Erie, PA 16508 - (814) 454-5201 - info@wicu12.com