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GE Transportation intends to shift production of its diesel-electric locomotives and kits for international customers from the company's manufacturing plant in Erie, Pennsylvania, to its plant in Fort Worth, Texas, the company announced yesterday.The proposed move is necessary to remain cost competitive across global markets, GE officials said in a prepared statement.In recent years, North American freight locomotive volume has dropped 10 percent and locomotive orders for all U.S. manufacturers have declined. Growth potential for locomotive orders is now global, they said.The move to Fort Worth "is necessary to drive efficiency, better compete in the increasingly competitive global rail market and preserve U.S. jobs," GE officials stated.The proposal is subject to a 60-day decision bargaining period, if requested by the union. If the company moves ahead with the transition, Erie would remain its largest location with 2,000 hourly and salaried employees.The move would eliminate 575 jobs in Erie, but as many as 225 workers who were laid off earlier this year in Fort Worth could be called back to the plant there to accommodate the locomotive production, said Tim Bader, senior business communications leader at GE Transportation, in an email.Under the plan, the Erie campus would focus on design, engineering, prototype development and component production."Erie is a key design center for GE Transportation and we have made significant investments in the past five years to drive next-generation engineering, test and design capabilities," Bader said.If the proposal goes through, production will continue at the Erie plant. The plant will produce prototypes, propulsion systems, alternators, mining equipment, grid blower motors, controls remanufacturing and spare parts for services, Bader added.
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