Due to the active support of the UE membership, the company withdrew several of their concessionary contract proposals this past week in negotiations, including mandatory overtime, reductions in overtime premium pay and an undefined work week. However, the company’s other new counter proposals on recall rights, personal illness time and vacation time are at reduced rates that our members had under the GE-UE National Agreement. The Union intends to offer counter proposals to address these shortcomings in upcoming negotiations.
Despite the Union repeatedly rejecting competitive wages, Wabtec is still insisting on lower, two-tier wage rates for new hires, including former GET employees who haven’t been recalled. Under the company’s proposal, current Erie workers, who are laid off and exhaust their recall rights, would be rehired as new workers under the lower, two-tier wage rates. The company has refused to offer a new wage proposal for current Erie workers since its first wage proposal when negotiations resumed in March. The company also rejected the Union’s proposal on Income Extension Aid (IEA) this week.
Even though the company paid out nearly $120 million in bonuses to GE and Wabtec executives after the merger, the company is demanding huge concessions that will negatively impact our members and our community. When asked by the Union why the company needs these concessions, the company’s answer was this is what they promised their Wall Street investors and large shareholders. Apparently, Wabtec wrote a check for GE Transportation that it expects our members to pay.
The Erie plant has been profitable under the terms of the GE-UE National Agreement, which Wabtec is seeking to destroy. Wabtec is realizing an additional $17 million in annual cost savings from the elimination of the defined benefit pension and retiree health insurance for Erie workers, which it refuses to acknowledge.
UE members are willing to work with Wabtec to bargain a fair contract that will keep the company profitable and good jobs in Erie, but as our members demonstrated earlier this year, we’re not willing to sell out future generations of Erie workers.
The next negotiation sessions are scheduled for May 20, 21, 23 and 24. The Union will continue to provide our members with updates. Your continued support will determine the outcome of these negotiations.
More info: “Like” UE Local 506 on Facebook or visit our website www.uelocal506.com