First Wave GE Layoffs Lower Than Expected - WICU12 HD WSEE Erie, PA News, Sports, Weather, Events

First Wave GE Layoffs Lower Than Expected

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The first round of job cuts at Erie General Electric takes effect on Friday. The planned layoffs stem from the transfer of work to the new GE Transportation plant in Fort Worth, Texas.

Employees at the Erie plant are receiving their official layoff notices, or notice of the date their layoff takes effect.  They are finding out which employees and how many will be out of a job. 12News/SEE News has learned that the cuts are not as deep as expected.

According to UE 506 Union President Scott Duke, as of now 240 workers are losing their jobs, with some leaving in November and some in December.  Another 140 workers over age 60 were offered early retirement deals.  So far 49 employees have taken the voluntary offer and more are expected to join them.   At this time, that's a total of 289 employees heading out the door.

In April, the company's transfer of work notice called for cutting 950 union jobs. A WARN notice in September said up to 500 jobs might go in the first wave. Union officials hate to see any cuts, especially at holiday time, but they're pleased the numbers are lower than expected. "Yes, that's definitely a blessing," said Duke.  "I know a lot of people getting laid off feel that it's around the holidays and a terrible thing to do, but it's for the sake of the business."

In a statement, GE spokeswoman Jennifer Erickson said, "We know how hard this action is for everyone affected, including families and the broader community."

GE is offering income extension for those laid off, based on years of service, plus benefit extensions, a training allowance, and through the PA Labor & Industry department, there will be a job fair and career link services to help displaced workers find other jobs.

Late Monday GE said that a number of layoff notices have been pushed back because a customer wants their order filled in 2013 instead of 2014. And the company has now postponed the career fair planned for this Wednesday.  According to Erickson, it will be held after all affected employees are notified.

The cuts are considered a "permanent lack of work" but UE 506 says union workers have five years of recall rights, if business picks up.

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