Home | About | Donate

Pennsylvania Workers Are Waging the Biggest US Manufacturing Strike in the Trump Era

Pennsylvania Workers Are Waging the Biggest US Manufacturing Strike in the Trump Era

Sarah Lahm

On February 26, nearly 2,000 members of the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America (UE) walked off their jobs at a longstanding locomotive manufacturing plant in Erie, Pennsylvania, in the largest U.S. strike in the manufacturing sector since 2016. The move came just one day after the plant began operating under its new owner, the Wabtec Corporation of Wilmerding, Pennsylvania.

Union yes!!! What needs to be part of anyone who is really serious about becoming a Democratic Presidential candidate is promoting the E (mployee) F (ree) C (hoice) A (ct) or EFCA or more simply “card check”. I believe in a fair, realistic minimum wage, BUT more importantly we need to make it easier to form a union. In the 50’s when union membership in this country was at it’s high at around 35% we had the greatest middle class of all time. Unionization will be the easiest way I believe to address the extreme inequality in this country.

6 Likes

Great point. And i think it was president Obama who championed the EFCA on the campaign trail and then promptly abandoned it once elected. I don’t even remember him mentioning it once as president.

This is class warfare that’s beein going on since raygun was elected and the corporate democrats (bill clinton) are just as complicit as republicans.

2 Likes

Makes me wonder about public banking in Pennsylvania and employee owned manufacturing.

People are already spearheading these movements - lots to learn from…

1 Like

Another bizarre note about contemporary american workplace rights >>>

Millionaire ballplayers in all the big 4 sports baseball, football, basketball and hockey have unions

But walmart workers, the biggest employer in the country NO UNIONS

what a dystopian fucked up backasswards country !!

4 Likes

My understanding of the term “card check” is that it was adopted by opponents of EFCA as a derisive nickname (like Obamacare as a derisive term for the ACA) and I don’t think supporters of EFCA should use it as short-hand for EFCA.

GE has long been known as one of the most anti-labor, anti-union companies in the U. S. (they gave us Ronald Reagan as an anti-labor, pro-business spokesperson), so it should probably be no surprise that they struck a deal with a company (Wabtech - originally Westinghouse Air Brake Co.) that would try to impose draconian, anti-worker conditions on it’s labor force. Forty years ago GE locomotives were an also-ran competitor to GM’s Electromotive Division (EMD), having only about 20% of the new market for Diesel-electric locomotives. In the 1980’s EMD stumbled with the introduction of a couple of failed models, allowing GE an opening to gain market share. GM eventually spun-off EMD in the mid-2000s, and it’s now owned by a subsidiary of Caterpillar, and has gone to 4-cycle engines from their originally Winton-designed 2 cycle engine, moved all final assembly to Canada, and has had a lot of problems meeting new EPA Tier IV emission goals. GE’s major advantage had long been it’s more fuel efficient 4-cycle prime mover, as opposed to EMD’s 2-cycle engine, which is less fuel efficient, but generally considered to be far, far more reliable than GEs. It’s a truism in railroading that old EMDs get rebuilt many times before they are scrapped, but GEs are dogs on the used locomotive market, prone to lots of gremlins and engine fires (search “Amtrak crispy critters” for a photo gallery of Amtrak GE locomotives that have suffered engine fires over the years). With rising fuel prices over the past 30 years, GE’s fuel efficiency advantage and EMD’s mistakes allowed the market shares to be reversed. For about a year, EMD could not sell locomotives in the U. S. because they could not meet the Tier IV emission standards. Given the differences between U. S. and overseas railroading, foreign locomotive manufacturers had not made inroads into the U. S. D-E market, but Siemans now has a presence here, mostly in the passenger locomotive market.

1 Like

Good for them and the teachers around the country. We all need to stand up to greed of profits over people. We need a salary cap for these greedy sycophants.
They are going to cook their goose and it is about time. No more subsidies, no more tax breaks, no more hiding money overseas, tax the wealth by increasing inheritance tax so we do not have dynasty families run by silver spoon adults who in some cases never worked a day in their lifes.

3 Likes

Years ago there was a story going around about a local manufacturing plant, a subsidiary of a large conglomerate, whose local managers allowed to slip in profitability until the large corporation agreed to sell it at a huge discount - to those same managers. As the deteriorating financial condition was artificial, the new owners cleaned up.

Wabtec may well be willing to close the plant as GE had previously planned if they do not get the concessions. If so, the union should immediately float an offer to become partners with Siemens or Cat or another competitor in the Erie plant, which will have instantly become worthless to Wabtec, especially if the union has a deal in hand and no incentive to go back to work for them.

1 Like

It was the job of Congress to pass the EFCA - they abandoned it in spite of having a Democrat majority.

2 Likes

Cat is a union-busting piece of shit - and has no experience building locomotives anyway. But yeah, maybe Siemens, or Bombardier.

1 Like

At least GE manufactured quality electrical equipment during the 20th century. Working in the design and construction business I frequently specified and purchased GE equipment. During the past 20 years, however GE product quality and business practices have been in a downward spiral. I have purchased nothing from them since 2000 and would not even buy a two bit alarm clock with their label on it today.

1 Like

How in the world do you get an engine fire in a diesel?

that is disgusting …i don’t remember Obummer pushing it … maybe he did

this government in bought and paid for

1 Like

Actually Cat bought the remains of GM’s locomotive manufacturing division, Electro-Motive Division (EMD), (not sure if they still own it) and also has made replacement prime movers for locomotives for years.

Several possible ways: Turbocharger failure and explosion; crankcase over-pressure; dynamic brake grid fire…

1 Like

Yes! But we still have these stupids who think that unions are “bad” and the fundymentalists hate them. The Janus case was funded by the KOCHS. These “people” who think that having people grovel for wages is the way to go are truly evil.

Ya mean like Dump or Devious?

Sports players and movie/TV / musical stars are idolized but the regular workers are made fun of and told they are crap.

1 Like

You know that a few days after the case was heard that Mr Janus went to work for the very org that sponsored the lawsuit. Real ass hole POS.

1 Like

I heard that- hope he is living in seclusion and looking over his shoulder in paranoia.