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Locomotive Workers Strike After New Owner Demands Pay Cuts

March 6, 2019

By Steve Wishnia and Neal Tepel

ERIE, Pa.—About 1,700 members of the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America went on strike Feb. 26 at a locomotive plant here, after the new owner refused to honor their current contract and tried to impose a two-tier contract with massive pay cuts. The plant, formerly owned by General Electric, has been a UE union shop since 1938, but was taken over Feb. 25 by the Wabtec Corporation, a Westinghouse spinoff that merged with GE Transportation. Wabtec’s terms, UE Locals 506 and 618 said, include “mandatory overtime and arbitrary schedules, wage reductions of up to 38% for recalled and newly hired workers, and the right to use temporary workers for up to 20% of the work.” Wabtec executive Greg Sbrocco wrote in the Erie Times News that with an average wage of $35 an hour, the plant was “GE Transportation’s least competitive site globally,” and that paying new hires $16.75-$25 was “a standard practice by U.S. manufacturing companies to aggressively compete with competitors in low-cost countries like China or Mexico.” “If we don’t stand up now, things are going to get a lot worse for a lot of people here,” safety coordinator Donny Brown told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Read more

March 6, 2019

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