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Wabtec Set To Close Wilmerding, Pa., Plant

Written by David C. Lester, Engineering Editor and Editor-in-Chief, Railway Track & Structures
(Wabtec Photograph)

(Wabtec Photograph)

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has reported that Wabtec Corp. will lay off 94 workers with the closure of its Wilmerding, Pa., plant, which is set to occur around July 1, 2024.

According to the Post-Gazette, layoffs should start around February or March “and will be ongoing until the plant is fully shutdown, likely by July 1, 2024,” Wabtec Human Resources Manager Marissa Wiley wrote in the company’s Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) that was filed with the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry.

The WARN Act was created to protect workers, their families, and communities by requiring employers with 100 or more employees to provide at least 60 calendar days advance written notice of a plant closing and mass layoff affecting 50 or more employees at a single site of employment, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. 

“This actually isn’t new news,” Wabtec told Railway Age on Dec. 27. “Wabtec negotiated the Wilmerding plant closure back in 2022 as part of the contract agreement with the union [United Electrical, Radio, and Machine Workers of America Local 610]. The Wilmerding site’s deteriorating condition made it too expensive to maintain. The site also was substantially underutilized and operated at less than a third of its capacity. The plant’s outdated layout did not lend itself to modern production processes and material flows. These challenges were compounded by the difficult business conditions, which hindered the Wilmerding site’s productivity and cost competitiveness. The site produced locomotive components, mainly braking systems.”

Wabtec’s origins began in Western Pennsylvania with founder George Westinghouse Jr.’s invention of the automatic air brake in 1869. Wilmerding was the home of Westinghouse Air Brake Co.

Editor’s Note: Wabtec’s relationship with Railway Age goes back more than 150 years. George Westinghouse (1846-1914), among whose signature inventions was the automatic air brake, actually introduced his revolutionary device publicly in the magazine, having brought a model of it to our Chicago offices in 1869. He obtained a patent for it in 1873. In 1886, Railway Age was the first technical publication to use color on advertising pages, for the Westinghouse Air Brake Company.

Railway Age Executive Editor Marybeth Luczak contributed to this report.

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