It’s already an era of clipping coupons and carefully keeping an eye on bills and debt for most families in the Mahoning Valley.
Now some workers at the General Electric Ohio Lamp Plant in Warren are bracing for what the future might hold after members of the IUE-CWA Teamsters Local 722 rejected a tentative agreement on Monday.
“This is crushing for us,” said Greg Gotti of Champion, an 18-year General Electric employee.
Gotti is a third-generation lamp maker. His father and grandfather worked for General Electric.
But now he said he feels a sense of betrayal, not from the company, but from some of his co-workers, who shot down a deal that would have kept everybody working in Warren.
“They chose ‘here’s my chance to get out with full supplements now instead of waiting for 60,’ and they were willing to take that away from our children,” Gotti said.
“I was really excited about them making the agreement, and then when I heard that the vote didn’t pass I was just dumbfounded, like how could that not happen?,” said Gotti’s daughter, Stephanie.
Gotti said at best, union workers would have lost 15 percent of their pay. But if the plant closes in January, they’ll lose medical benefits one year later, which would put many families just like the Gotti’s in real trouble.
“If you have a sick child, nowadays you take them to the hospital. You don’t have benefits, you’re just out of luck,” said his wife, Marcia Gotti.
Gotti said the family has been smart and has been getting rid of bills and debt.
“So we’ll be able to survive, but there’s a lot of difference between living and surviving,” he said.
The Gotti’s have called Glendola Road in Champion home for the past decade. Stephanie will graduate in May and go to Youngstown State University, but it depends on what happens at GE.
“It might even mean moving out of state. Just depends on whether he would be able to find work around here, comparable to what he’s making now,” Marcia Gotti said.
GE continues to talk with union leaders at the Ohio Lamp Plant to see if something can be worked out to keep the plant running past January.