Last Week For Talks to Save GE Jobs at Erie Plant - WICU12 HD WSEE Erie, PA News, Sports, Weather and Events

Last Week For Talks to Save GE Jobs at Erie Plant

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This is the last week for scheduled negotiations aimed at preserving manufacturing jobs at Erie GE.  Representatives from the company and its union, UE 506 were back at the bargaining table Monday.  They are expected to keep talking through the June 22 deadline.

Officials from the Erie Regional Chamber and Growth Partnership are confirming that GE has lost some orders to their competitor, Caterpillar.  Chamber President and CEO Barbara Chaffee said, "We know they are aggressively out marketing in the international marketplace, but we also know that in April GE lost an order from BNSF for 69 units to Caterpillar and just this month lost an order they were expecting from KCS-Kansas City Southern, to Caterpillar.  They were told that GE wasn't competitive."

According to a union news letter the company is seeking wage concessions, a lower tier wage for new hires and they want mandatory overtime. That comes as a surprise after reports that orders are down.  Sources say the union membership may balk at that.  Once again, Chaffee said that reasonable mandatory overtime is something expected at Caterpillar.  "Bottom line is there is a good overtime rate and most importantly if GE is asking for overtime, it's to service the customers, so I guess the priority has to be you deliver a locomotive on time," said Chaffee.

Union employees are scheduled to get briefings on the status of the bargaining during their monthly meetings at the union hall this Thursday.  One source tells us that GE may be willing to preserve 375 jobs out of the 950 that have been targeted to move to the company's new manufacturing facility in Fort Worth, Texas.

Meantime, Democratic U.S. Senator Bob Casey spoke with GE President and CEO Lorenzo Simonelli and with the President of UE 506, Scott Duke. Casey said he stressed the need for GE to engage in genuine negotiations with workers in Erie to preserve the maximum number of jobs.  Casey added, "Losing 1,000 jobs would be a damaging blow to Erie's economy and I'm urging all involved to work together on a path that preserves jobs."

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