Biting the Hand that Feeds You

Several GE/Wabtec community members are disheartened by recent comments of a Widget Financial Institution employee. If you represent an Erie area credit union with open membership and are sensitive to the needs of the middle class, please respond with your institution’s address and hours in the comments below.

Credit Unions

A credit union is governed by its members. That is why I am entirely confused on a DISQUS post by a Widget Financial Institute employee.

His opinion has hurt and angered many.

To credit union members

People who do not walk in your shoes do not understand. Don’t allow their comments to hurt you.

We have been accused of being bullies. Please, I know this is a very emotional time in your lives, but be respectful if you withdraw your money. If even one of you gets angry, it affects the reputation of the entire union membership.

Be bigger than those who insult you.

To Mr. Mason

I am sorry that you feel bullied. These are emotional times for Wabtec middle-class workers.

Regarding your words. You are certainly entitled to your opinion as I am. Unfortunately, you and I differ totally in our opinion on this Wabtec labor dispute.

You see union members, many whom you work for, as closed-minded, scared, bullied and brainwashed. I see them as individuals who are fighting corporate America to maintain decent living wages and conditions.

Would you like it if your members requested you work variable days from 2 pm until 11pm? Because honestly, most of your members take care of their financial obligations after working hours and over the weekend. Those might be better hours. However, your members have families and lives and they know you do too.

Wabtec workers worry the proposed flexible schedules will impact their personal lives.

Additionally, if your members were cold-hearted and did require you change your hours, what if at 11 pm each night, you had to stay until every last person in line was taken care of. All of the third shift workers who need assistance. In other words, what if your members imposed mandatory overtime on you?

Wabtec workers worry their lives will be impacted by mandatory overtime.

One last point. If the union ratifies a contract with, oh let’s say 25%, decrease in wages, are you willing to make those same concessions? Lower your salary by 25%?

You, Mr. Mason, owe your members an apology.

________________________________

Cyndie “CJ” Zahner has lived in the Erie community her entire life. She is a retired grant writer/administrator, and now writes fiction novels. Her husband, brother-in-law, and nephew-in-law work at Wabtec. Her brother, Mike Filutze, is a GE retiree. Her father-in-law, Edwin Zahner, was a proud GE employee for thirty-seven years. Follow Cyndie on InstagramTwitterFacebookGoodreadsBookBubLinkedIn and purchase her books on Amazon. See her BookCircle Online interview here.

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Strong Workers, Strong People, Strong Middle Class

To Wabtec

Want strong workers? You’ve got them in Erie, Pennsylvania.

When General Electric’s business boomed, they hired some of the best, hard-working, skilled labor from all over the city. Other manufacturers were angry. GE enticed some great workers to leave their jobs and come work for them. They added some of the city’s best skilled labor to their own great workforce, and the result is these strong men and women now stand arm in arm in sub-zero wind chills fighting to keep middle-class jobs in the city they love.

You can’t have it both ways. You can’t have strong workers who are weak people. These individuals will help your company thrive. Be glad for their strength. They want your company to succeed. They want sustainable work for future generations.

They want to work.

Negotiate. Get them back to their jobs. Let them prove themselves.

To economic leaders

Do you want more jobs in Erie? Tell manufacturers and corporate America about the strength of our region. For once, the country is watching Erie, Pennsylvania. Don’t waste this opportunity.

Get economic leaders who feel Erie’s skilled labor are paid too much away from the table. We don’t need their negativism. The truth is, corporate America would like nothing more than to push skilled labor like ours out of the middle class and into the working poor.

Yes, unions are not perfect. But they are absolutely necessary to sustain the middle class. Without them? Our country will erode into two classes: the rich and the working poor.

Please, sit down with our unions today and use this brief yet vital opportunity of being in the lime light to show a unified effort to attract businesses. Showcase Erie as strong, skilled and resilient. Sell our work ethic. Our love of our region. And if you don’t believe Erie is strong, skilled, and resilient, at least get out of the room and let the rest of us fight for our lives.

To the union workers

Stay strong. The strength of a man doesn’t show in his economic status. It shows in his soul. This fight is bigger than all of us. Whether you know it or not, you are in the fight of your lives to help keep the middle class, not only in Erie, but in our entire country.

When you get back to work, and hopefully you will soon, work your tails off. Show them just how strong Erie is.

God bless.

_____________________________________________

Cyndie Zahner has lived in the Erie community her entire life. She is a retired grant writer/administrator, and now writes fiction novels. Her husband, brother-in-law, and nephew-in-law work at Wabtec. Her brother, Mike Filutze, is a GE retiree. Her father-in-law, Edwin Zahner, was a proud GE employee for thirty-seven years. Follow Cyndie on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, BookBub, LinkedIn and purchase her books on Amazon. See her BookCircle Online interview at here.

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Why You Should Care About the Wabtec Strike

Why You should Care About the Wabtec Strike

The first in a series of blogs about the Erie, Pennsylvania wage dispute.

If you are a blue-collar manufacturing worker in Erie, you should be concerned about the Wabtec/GE strike. The outcome of this labor dispute may eventually affect you.

Here’s how GE labor relations affected Erie in the past:

My Husband as an Example

Jeff worked as a journeyman toolmaker in Erie at a livable wage for years. When the owners of manufacturing companies in town banded together to control wages and, in some cases, alleviate overtime costs, Jeff’s pay raises and overtime stopped. We had three children in college at the time, so Jeff applied to and accepted a job at GE as a second-shift, press-brake operator in the hope overtime would be available to help pay our mounting college costs.

That year, GE hired hundreds of Erie workers. Smaller Erie manufacturers lost much of their skilled labor to them. In an attempt to keep some employees, those Erie manufacturing companies had to step up their pay increases and benefits. In doing so, they kept some employees from going to GE.

Fast forward a few years. GE is no longer hiring. In fact, they have laid some of those workers off.

Now those same manufacturers have the ability to fall back to their nickel-and-diming ways. So, some did. No need to take the scaling back to prior ways personal. This is Basic Supply and Demand 101.

Webster defines supply and demand as: the amount of goods and services that are available for people to buy compared to the amount of goods and services that people want to buy. If less of a product (workers) than the public (manufacturers) wants is produced, the law of supply and demand says that more can be charged (paid to) for the product (workers).

Hence, if GE attracts more Erie workers by paying them more, there are less workers available to other Erie manufactures and, in essence, they must pay those of you out there not working for GE more.

GE/Wabtec Rates

If the new Wabtec lowers labor rates, employers in our area will follow. Period.

You can debate this issue at length, but if your employer no longer worries about losing you to Wabtec, fight all you want for that cost-of-living wage hike, their backs are no longer against the wall.

Yes, you may have a few great employers who do right by their employees, but manufacturing businesses are currently in the struggle of their lives. If their employees don’t have better employment opportunities in our area, Erie manufacturers no longer have to work as hard to keep them.

Our Area

Here’s a complaint I have about the Erie area.

I worked in Economic and Community Development for years before I retired. An Economic Development leader once complained that GE blue-collar workers were earning six figures. It was a nice spring morning in May, and I asked him how many days he had taken off that year. He said he had only used a few vacation days.

“No, how many days away from the office have you had? Saturdays and Sundays included?”

Well, of course, he may have worked some overtime, but he generally had weekends off.

“My husband has only had three days off in over four months—weekends included. That is the reason he will make six figures this year.”

Economic Development Leaders want a community college? Of course, they do. (Remember the properties of supply and demand?) They want to attract jobs to the Erie area? Of course. And in order to do so Erie needs more skilled labor?

Here’s a tip: stop bashing the skilled workers you do have.

 

Tomorrow: Mandatory Overtime

Email your comments to Cyndie.zahner@gmail.com

 

_____________________________________________    Cyndie Zahner has lived in the Erie community her entire life. She is a retired grant writer/administrator, and now writes fiction novels. Follow her on InstagramTwitterFacebookGoodreadsBookBubLinkedIn and purchase her books on Amazon. See her BookCircle Online interview at here.

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