General Electric factory workers strike

OAN Newsroom
UPDATED 9:45 AM PT — Thursday, February 28, 2019

Workers at a General Electric (GE) locomotive factory are on strike following Wabtec’s merger with the facility.

According to union members, leading up to the strike Wabtec pushed to introduce mandatory overtime, 38-percent wage cuts for new workers and the right to use temporary workers.

The 1,700 person strike started in Erie, Pennsylvania Tuesday morning after Wabtec failed to reach an agreement with United Electrical union workers to keep in place GE’s previous workplace conditions.

“We asked for a 30-day interim agreement to basically give us a chance to negotiate a fair contract,” explained Scott Swalson, president of United Electric Union 506. “They weren’t interested in that, and we bargained until about two o’clock this morning and we just couldn’t come to a mutual agreement.”

Vermont Senator and 2020 presidential candidate Bernie Sanders expressed his support for the strike on Twitter Tuesday.

This is the first strike to occur in this facility since GE’s company-wide strike of 1969 and 1970 that lasted fourteen-weeks.

General Electric has faced a host of financial distress in recent years, and its stock has dropped from $600 billion in 2000 to $70 billion in 2019. The merger with Wabtec follows a long-line of moves by the company to stay afloat, including their ongoing attempt to sell their light bulb company and the exit of media conglomerate NBC Universal in 2013.

Wabtec Corp. employees, who are members of UE Local 506, strike near the west gate of the former GE Transportation plant in Lawrence Park Township, Erie County, Pa., on Tuesday. — Greg Wohlford/Erie Times-News via AP

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