- Associated Press - Friday, November 6, 2015

ERIE, Pa. (AP) - GE Transportation is laying off one-third of its 4,500 workers at a locomotive manufacturing plant in northwestern Pennsylvania.

Company spokeswoman Cathy Heiman confirmed the layoffs Friday, the Erie Times-News (https://bit.ly/1Mg6CzP ) reported.

The 1,500 workers being cut are represented by United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers Local 506.

Scott Slawson, union local president, called the layoffs a “devastating blow” for the community. He said the news came as a warn notice, meaning the layoffs will happen over the next two months.

Slawson said he wants the company to work with the union in qualifying some higher-level service employees for retirement if they’re close to eligibility.

Becky Standley, co-owner of Lawrence Park Diner in Erie, said she hopes the layoffs won’t affect her business.

Erie Mayor Joe Sinnott called the layoffs problematic for GE workers, their families and the community.

“GE is such an important economic driver in this community, both through employment at the main facility but also (through) ancillary companies that supply GE that are also throughout this region,” Sinnott said. “You don’t know what the immediate effect will be on those, but continued downturn in GE business can only have a negative effect on those as well.”

The cuts are “due to lower expected production volumes for 2016,” spokeswoman Cathy Heiman said.

She said the locomotive business is “growing internationally” but doesn’t change that next year’s production will still drop off in Erie.

The layoffs will leave the plant with about 3,000 salaried and hourly employees. Jean Rodemaker, vice president of the Lawrence Park Township board of commissioners, said they hope that at least some of the laid-off employees will be hired again as new locomotive orders come in.


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

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