The following is a press release from IUE-CWA LOCAL 201. Because it is written by one of the parties involved in the story, it is posted under Opinion as a letter to the editor. Your opinions are welcome. Please post your short responses in the comments below, or send any long-form responses on this or any other topic by email. Thank you.
The IUE-CWA International Union has called for Solidarity Contract Rallies to be held at GE plants across the country on Friday, May 29. The second rounds of rallies are being called just 3 days before GE National Contract Negotiations open up between the Unions and the multi-national corporate giant. Bargaining begins in New York City on Monday, June 1 and directly covers over 16,400 union workers across the country and indirectly impacts tens of thousands of retirees and non –union workers.
The Friday rallies, being held in over 10 cities including inside the Lynn GE plant, are being held under a theme of “Solidarity” between local unions and are a “Unity” send off to members of the National Union Negotiating Committee headed to New York this weekend. IUE-CWA Local 201 represents almost 1,500 workers at the GE Lynn River Works plant and Business Agent Ric Casilli is one such member of the National Committee heading to NYC.
With the expiration of the current 4 year labor contract on June 21, 2015, the parties will have about 3 weeks to try and hammer out an agreement. The main issues of contention appear to be centered on the Medical Plans (for both active members and post 65 retirees), Pensions and Job Security.
Union members are not happy with the high employee costs associated with the new GE Medical Plan introduced 4 years ago and are angry at GE’s recent elimination of the
Post – 65 Retiree Medical plans for their salaried non-union employees, anticipating that GE is going to propose the same eligibility elimination for current union members and retirees. Other hot issues are expected to be significant Pension Plan improvements for current members, a pension increase for retirees, and some meaningful job Security provisions whereas GE has shut down 28 plants in the United States since 1994 and has outsourced GE work overseas causing tens of thousands of job lost in this country.
In 2014, GE recorded close to $16 Billion in profits, gave their top 5 executives an average one year pension increase of $10.9 Million while providing them with an average compensation of $11, 510 per hour!! With GE making an average annual profit of
$49, 500 off each GE employee worldwide, the Unions will be in no mood for any more increased cost-sharing or benefit cuts and are looking for big improvements in the medical, pension and job security areas.