GE Transportation laying off 1,500 of 4,500 workers in Erie

FILE - In this Tuesday, June 24, 2014 file photo, the General Electric logo is seen at a plant in Belfort, eastern France. General Electric Co. on Friday, Oct. 16, 2015 reported a decline in third-quarter profit, but strong performances from its core units helped the company top Wall Street expectations. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus, File)

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

The Erie Times-News reports company spokeswoman Cathy Heiman confirmed the layoffs Friday morning.

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

The union local’s president didn’t immediately comment, but told the newspaper last month he was bracing for bad news based upon media reports that business was slowing, as well as conversations with company officials.

Heiman says the jobs are being cut “due to lower expected production volumes for 2016.”

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

However, U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania Bob Casey spoke out about the cuts, saying he will actively campaign to help families cope with the loss of jobs.

“The workers and families impacted by these layoffs will bear the heaviest burden, and the economy of all of Northwestern Pennsylvania will be adversely affected,” Casey, a Democrat, said. “GE has an abiding obligation to help these workers receive the resources and training they need to find future employment.”

Casey said he also reached out on an international level to attempt to drum up business, as Erie’s GE plant works with international business.

“Yesterday, I sent a letter to the U.S. Ambassador to Kazakhstan, George Krol, urging him to work to expand U.S. exports to Kazakhstan which could help increase activity at GE in Erie,” Casey said.

The layoffs will leave the plant with about 3,000 salaried and hourly employees.

“I will continue to press GE to commit to adding jobs in Erie when business activity increases,” Casey added.

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