GE will move some work from Erie to Texas, citing production woes; over 100 jobs at risk

Industrials Associated Press

GE Transportation said its Northwestern Pennsylvania location fell behind on its 2015 production schedule during union negotiations and the company now plans move more work Texas, potentially costing over 100 jobs in Erie.

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The company said in a letter that production at its Erie plant fell nearly three weeks behind schedule as union workers bargained for a new four-year contract, the Erie Times-News reports (http://bit.ly/1Rowb9F).

The contract was ratified less than two weeks ago and gave workers hourly raises of $1.40 and $10,000 in lump-sum bonuses. The company said it may look to subcontractors to make up for lost production.

GE Transportation said it plans to move production of 10 Evolution locomotives to its Fort Worth, Texas plant this year and 50 Evolution locomotives to the same plant next year, costing Erie 125 jobs. GE said it's necessary to get the Erie plant's production back on schedule.

The company announced on June 19 that union actions had damaged the Erie plant's viability after a second half-day employee walkout.

Scott Slawson, president of Local 506 of the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America, which represents about 3,200 company workers in Erie, said Thursday the company's letter doesn't really say anything.

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"It means absolutely nothing to me," he said. "They are not really saying anything. This is the standard GE drama. There is no comment to make on it."

He said GE has failed to supply locomotive parts on time contributing to some of the production delays.

"(The company says) parts are on time 98 percent of the time. But you can't build 98 percent of a locomotive," he said.

It's possible the company could cut 125 positions in Erie without layoffs. The new contract includes a provision that will let up to 500 GE workers around the country take early retirement in 2016.

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Information from: Erie Times-News, http://www.goerie.com

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This story's headlines have been corrected to show some locomotive work, not jobs, are being moved to Texas.

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Information from: Erie Times-News, http://www.goerie.com