Pennsylvania lawmakers, economic groups comment on GE announcement

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ERIE, Pa. — Lawmakers and economic development groups representing Erie and the surrounding area were disappointed to hear of GE Transportation’s decision to end finished locomotive assembly and cut nearly 600 jobs at its Lawrence Park, Pa., plant by the end of 2018.

Erie Regional Chamber and Growth Partnership President and CEO Barbara Chaffee tells Trains News Wire she hopes the union and company could come to some sort of agreement that makes the facility more productive and cost efficient in the U.S. and internationally.

“Any loss of jobs is not only the loss of GE, but also of the community,” Chaffee says.

While current plans call for locomotive production to end by the next of next year, the company’s design and develop center will remain open and manufacturing jobs in other industries will remain.

“We hope there can be a pathway forward to make this plant as productive as possible and to be cost competitive in the marketplace,” she says.

Pennsylvania State Sen. Dan Laughlin, R-Erie County, issued a statement on Thursday morning in response to GE’s announcement.

“I am extremely disappointed by GE Transportation’s announcement that it plans to end locomotive production at its Lawrence Park Township facility next year. It is particularly distressing that up to 575 employees could lose their jobs as part of this move,” Laughlin says. “Unfortunately, the downsizing of the GE plant in the past has already prepared the community to handle — as best we can — the human aspect of this corporate decision."

Laughlin says Erie’s unemployment compensation service center is ready to assist employees affected by the decision.

Elected officials in Lawrence Park Township — where the GE plant is located — declined to comment on the news.

GE Transportation attributed the decision to downturns in freight traffic and a global market for their products. The supplier intends to transition the production of locomotives and kits for international customers to its GE Manufacturing and Solutions facility in Fort Worth, Texas, in a move that is says is necessary for competing in a competitive global rail market.

GE has had a presence in Erie since it built its manufacturing plant in 1910. There are approximately 2,000 employees at the Erie plant.

NEWSWIRETrains News Wire

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