BULLETIN 11/21/2019: CHIEF STEWARDS NOMINATIONS AND ELECTIONS

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Those interested in running for this position must come to the union hall to place their name or the name of a qualified member during the first (3) regularly scheduled working days, January 2nd, 3rd and 6th during normal business hours 7AM - 4PM.

Members in good standing nominating themselves will sign an acceptance form and will be given a questionnaire that must be returned no later than two (2) scheduled working days from end of nominating period. Those nominating other members will be given acceptance/rejection forms along with a questionnaire and will be responsible to give this material to the proposed candidate.

Members in good standing nominating members other than themselves will be issued an acceptance/rejection form along with a questionnaire and will be responsible for transferring such materials to the proposed candidate to be received at the Union Hall an accordance with the above guidelines.

Any member who has been a steward or an alternate steward for at least one (1) year can run for this position as long as he/she is permanently working in the division.

Divisional Chief Steward elections will be held on Tuesday, January 28th, 2020.

Nominations must be in no later than 4PM January 6th. Acceptance forms and questionnaires must be returned to the Union Hall no later than 4PM January 8th.

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Bulletin 11/19/2019: LAYOFF BENEFITS RIGHTS INTERVIEWS

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When: November 25, 2019, 9:00AM and December 9, 2019, 9:00 AM

Where: UE Local 506, 3923 Main Street

The Union has scheduled benefits meetings with Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, Rapid Response for November 25, 2019, at 9 AM and December 9, 2019 at 9 AM. Pennsylvania CareerLink, PA Unemployment and other agencies will provide Benefits Rights Interviews (BRI’s) for trade benefits and very important information on the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Benefit Rights Interviews (BRI’s) will are required to be eligible for Trade Benefits. Members who missed the November 11th, meeting are encouraged to attend the November 25th, meeting. Spouses are welcome to attend these meetings.

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BULLETIN 11/8/2019

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As Wabtec initiates permanent layoffs, we will do our best to communicate with you and ensure every member affected receives the benefits that they are entitled to.  The disappointing news that Wabtec is moving forward with permanent layoffs, is coupled with a troubling decision to not continue temporary lack of works in this situation.

We continue to urge the Company to consider each employee as they issue layoffs.  This approach has served affected families in the past, as well as labor/management relations.  Here are some of the obstacles we are facing:

  • These layoffs are permanent, as opposed to temporary.
  • Many of the affected employees may not be eligible for unemployment compensation which could impact their TRA entitlement
  • We have been working with the State to identify those individuals based on service in affected jobs, but because the company has not provided the State with 2019 second-quarter earnings, our efforts have been rendered useless. Without these reports, it's impossible to verify and prepare for those who will be laid off and not eligible for unemployment compensation benefits. 
  • The Union has raised these concerns with the company repeatedly, and continue to urge them to take employees and their families into consideration before they are impacted.

In the meantime, the Union has scheduled a benefits session with the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry Rapid Response meeting for November 18, 2019, at 9 am. Pennsylvania CareerLink, PA Unemployment and other agencies will provide benefits rights interviews, information on trade benefits and the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Representatives will provide members with information about all benefits available to them. Benefit Rights Interviews (BRI’s) will be conducted during this meeting and are required to be eligible for Trade benefits. 

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Special Bulletin 10/22/19: Wabtec announces layoff

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As the union has been communicating for the past three months, potential layoffs have become a reality. Yesterday, UE Local 506 was provided notice of a permanent lack of work by Wabtec Union Relations. The Local is working with the Wabtec to identify potential opportunities to mitigate the impact on members. In addition to encouraging the company to filter work in from other facilities, the union has suggested Wabtec “ask from the top and force from the bottom.” This would allow higher service members to voluntarily take a layoff in lieu of lower service members being forced. Volunteers would be afforded contractual IEA lump sum payment and protected benefits with the understanding that they would forgo recall rights. Participants would also be eligible for their 2020, 3% annual and 10% one-time 401k contributions. This option would also qualify volunteers for UC benefits and TAA.  The company has stated that the expense of IEA benefits for higher service employees are the greatest concern. The Union will continue to encourage the business to consider both options+.     

The Union is also meeting with NWPA Rapid Response this afternoon to prepare for the event. Our goal will be to ensure any member impacted will be afforded all benefits available.

Considering the circumstances, the Members Involvement Meetings scheduled for October 23, 2019 will be postponed until a later date. We will communicate when the meeting will take place when we determine the appropriate time to reschedule.

The following list displays the estimated impact by classification provided by the company on October 21, 2019.

Classification

       Quantity

Assembly Technician 1

3

Assembly Technician 2

26

Fabrication Technician

1

Machinist 2

1

Machinist 3

1

Paint Technician

1

Production Technician

41

Weld Technician 1

6

Weld Technician 2

13

Grand Total

93

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UE 506, 618 Members Ratify First Four-Year Contract with Wabtec

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CONTACT Scott Slawson 814-899-3108

(June 12, 2019) ERIE, PAThe members of UE Locals 506 and 618 ratified the first four-year contract agreement with their new employer, Wabtec. The ratification comes on the back of 128 days of negotiations. This contract reaches an agreement on terms of employment, including pay, benefits, hours, leave, and health and safety policies. 

“The UE workers building Wabtec locomotives are the best in the world,” said Scott Slawson, UE Local 506 President. “The grit and discipline of this workforce has been on display throughout this difficult process, but there is no doubt that these workers will prove their worth with their new employer as they have for generations.

“From day one of this process, our members have been committed to protecting a healthy and safe work environment, while supporting our families and local economy—this agreement sets a course that will provide Wabtec an opportunity to grow and succeed in Erie County.”

About UE Local 506

"UE" is the abbreviation for United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America, a democratic national union representing workers in a wide variety of sectors. UE Local 506, which represents 1,700 hourly workers at the Wabtec plant in Lawrence Park, Pennsylvania, is a rank-and-file-union whose members set the policies of the union and make all of the decisions of importance in a democratic and collective manner.  UE Local 506 has represented GE workers since 1937. To learn more about UE Local 506 visit www.uelocal506.com.

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Tentative Four-Year Labor Agreement Reached, Pending UE Locals 506 and 618 Member Ratification

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After 128 days of negotiations, the UE bargaining committee of UE Locals 506 and 618 have reached a tentative agreement on a four-year contract with Wabtec. This tentative agreement is being recommended by the Bargaining Committee to our Board and the 1,700 members of UE Local 506 and 618 for ratification.

On Tuesday, June 11, we will hold three special membership meetings at the Bayfront Convention Center at 7:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m., and 3:30 p.m. to explain all of the details of the agreement. Ratification votes will take place at the Union Hall from 5:30 a.m.- 6 p.m. on Wednesday, June 12. Please make plans to attend, as your voice matters.

The tentative contract reaches an agreement on terms of employment, including pay, benefits, hours, leave, and health and safety policies. The contract agreement includes the following:

  • Maintain current wage rates for existing Wabtec employees.
  • Ten-year progression to full wage rates for new hire employees.
  • A commitment for new work equivalent to 100 full-time employees by the end of the contract.
  • Continuation of voluntary overtime.
  • Five-year recall rights.
  • Former GE Transportation employees who were on the recall list will receive preferential placement for
  • new hire employment with the restoration of seniority.
  • Overtime premium pay after eight hours / double-time after 12 hours.
  • Standard Monday-Friday work week.
  • Up to six weeks of paid vacation, based upon years of service.
  • Up to 5 paid personal days, based on service.
  • Twelve paid holidays.
  • Improved health and welfare benefits, including medical, dental, vision, life and disability benefits.
  • Retirement (401K) plan with a 3% Company contribution plus an additional 3% matching contribution.
  • Maintained Income Extension Aid (IEA).
  • Protected benefits for 26-weeks.
  • Four-year agreement.

As you all know, we area rank-and-file-union whose members set the policies of the union and make all of the decisions of importance in a democratic and collective manner. Your ratification of this tentative contract is an important step in the process, as we all stand should-to-shoulder with our union brothers and sisters.

We are proud of this union’s resolve to stand up for the entire community and the next generation of highly skilled workers who will continue to support the middle-class economy of the Erie Region.

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How Wabtec’s Contract Proposals Will Affect All Erie Workers

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In its communications to Erie Workers, Wabtec has given a one-sided presentation that doesn’t give a full explanation of how their contract proposals will negatively affect all Erie workers over a four-year contract.  Here are some of the company’s proposals and how they will negatively affect all Erie workers:

  • Two-Tier Wages – The company’s proposal will slash the average wage by $12.16 per hour, saving the company more than $51 million over a four-year contract. The company has not given the Union an economic justification for this huge wage reduction outside of its ongoing threats. Current Erie workers, who are laid off and exhaust their recall rights, and are rehired by the company, will be hired at the two-tier wage rates.
  • Job Classifications – The company’s proposal consolidates the current 33 job codes down to 21 new job classifications, endangering the safety of Erie workers. The company’s proposal will also cause current Erie workers in ten job codes to lose pay if they move for any reason after the first year.
  • Management Rights – The company will be able to do just about anything it wants, without negotiating with the union, including “the unqualified right to establish and enforce minimum standards of production and quality for all operations and job functions in the Erie Plant. In the event an employee’s production or quality is below such standard, the Company reserves the right to transfer or discharge the employee and replace such employee with some other employee who can maintain minimum standard production.”
  • Subcontracting – The company shall have the unlimited right to subcontract…any work at the Erie Plant that has previously been performed by subcontractors.” In other words, the company will be able to subcontract everything and not bargain with the Union over its decision.
  • Temporary Workers – The company “will have the unqualified right to utilize temporary workers to perform production and maintenance work during the term of this Agreement provided there are no qualified bargaining unit employees on layoff and the temporary workers do not exceed ten percent (10%) of the bargaining unit workforce.” Why will the company want to hire new employees if it can use temporary workers?
  • Layoff and Recall – The company’s proposal will greatly limit seniority rights for bumping and recall purposes. Recall rights are also capped at three (3) years for employees with more than twenty years of service; two (2) years for employees with ten or more years of service; and one (1) year for employees with less than ten years of service.
  • Job Vacancies – Seniority will be the last determining factor taken into consideration for job bidding. In other words, the company will be able to pick who they want for job vacancies.
  • Hours of Work – The company’s proposal would permit the company to implement continuous operations schedules, including (12) hour shifts, on any manufacturing, maintenance or warehousing operations.
  • Vacations – Vacation eligibility is capped at five (5) weeks, except for employees who currently have six (6) weeks.
  • Personal Illness Pay – Employees will only be eligible for twenty-four (24) hours of personal illness pay per calendar year, which may not be carried over from year to year. Any personal illness pay not used in the calendar year will be forfeited.  Employees are expected to give 24 hours’ notice prior to utilizing personal illness pay and the company reserves the right to require medical documentation.
  • Income Extension Aid (IEA) – The company rejected the Union’s proposal for IEA and has not proposed one-year of protected benefits. Laid-off employees will lose their health insurance benefits at the end of the month that they are laid off unless they pay the total costs of their health insurance benefits.
  • Severance Benefits – The company’s proposal will greatly reduce the amount of severance benefits available for Erie workers in the event of a plant closing. The company’s proposal will limit the amount of benefits to one week for each year of completed service with the company, up to a maximum payment of twenty (20) weeks of severance allowance.
  • Medical Leave – The company’s proposal will require employees to use their paid illness days and any accrued vacation for approved FMLA leaves of absence for any reason other than their own occupational or non-occupational illness or injury. In other words, if you have to take off to care for a sick family member, you will have to use your paid illness days and vacation time.
  • Grievance and Arbitration Procedure – The company’s proposal is a greatly weakened procedure that undermines Erie workers’ protections and rights. The company is under no obligation to settle grievances and could force every grievance to costly arbitration, which they know the union will not be able to afford. The company’s proposal will also not permit the right to strike after exhausting the third step of the grievance procedure.
  • Union Representatives – The company’s proposal will undermine the union’s organizational strength on the shop floor and limit the stewards’ ability to represent the members.
  • Safety – The company is proposing to eliminate elected safety coordinators and replace them with bid positions, compromising the hugely successful safety program.

The Union has proposed a new highly competitive wage proposal which could save the company more than $130 million in reduced labor costs over the four-year contract while protecting current Erie workers’ wages and jobs. The Union’s proposal will also give new hires a path to the legacy wage rates. The proposal also includes job guarantees that the company must recall all laid-off GET employees in order of their seniority and create 400 new additional jobs over the four-year contract.

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