The strike in Erie kicked off on Feb. 26, when more than 1,700 members of the United Electrical, Radio, and Machine Workers of America (UE) Locals 506 and 618 walked off the job as Wabtec took control of the plant. Last year, Wabtec merged with GE Transportation, which had operated the facility for more than a century and maintained a contract with UE the past eight decades.
Wabtec has refused to honor GE’s contract—which, UE spokesman Jonathan Kissam told In These Times, has provided generations of workers with “good, Rust Belt jobs.”
“People would rather work than be on strike,” Kissam added, “but they’re not willing to hand every aspect of their life over to the boss, and they’re not willing to create a permanent underclass of low wage workers.”
Under the new deal, workers are set to return to the plant on Monday. According to a statement from UE, as talks continue to establish a new contract, workers and Wabtec agree to:
“Both parties are optimistic,” the statement said, “that a mutually beneficial collective bargaining agreement can be reached to position the Erie facility for future growth, stability, and success.”
While congratulating the union workers “for their successful effort in standing up for justice and dignity,” Sanders urged Wabtec “to sit down at the bargaining table and negotiate a fair contract with its union workers.”
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