NOTE: Reports #1 though #9 by Local 201 are on the bargaining issues and you can click the Contract update tab above to review the key bargaining issues.See the National IUE-CWA Opening Day release below also about the opening of bargaining in NYC today. Too view the full Opening day speeches by President Jim Clark and Chairman Bob Santamoor - go to GE Workers United Web-site..
Negotiations opened today at approximately 1:00 PM in New York City.
The IUE-CWA and CBC union bargaining committees walked to the Negotiating hotel at 12:15 pm in the rain together in a show of solidarity.
IUE-CWA President Jim Clark, IUE-CWA Conference Board Chairman Bob Santamoor, and CWA District 1 President (soon to be CWA national President) Chris Shelton opened up remarks for the Union framing our members needs. GE Chief Negotiator John Gritti gave the Company's opening statement,
In brief summary, President Clark declared "do not underestimate our resolve". He stressed the sacrifices the union's have made over a number of years and the profits the Company has enjoyed.He said we seek investment in our facilities, a fair share in the company's large profits, and a commitment to keep promises made in relation to benefits for current and future retirees.
Chairman Santamoor expressed being disturbed about the Company's whole approach to negotiating and benefits - "It is like deja- vous all over again but even worse". He said the Company has to think about "integrity", compassion and empathy that has been lost over they years. He hit on what he called a "money grab" in relation to cuts they have been making on retiree benefits- medical and life insurance. He also said the attitude and approach in negotiating has to change and he said our union sub-committees need to be involved in meaningful and constructive bargaining. The Chairman concluded that we already paid for (by giving up more in wage increases) and bargained many of the gains that the Company seeks to take away.
CWA Shelton told GE that the 700,000 CWA members will be watching this bargaining as many are going into major Contract negotiations next and they will support our members in the industrial sector of our union. He , along with President Clark, expressed dismay about them trying to conclude a deal with Electrolux to sell the appliance division with no guarantees for union members that made sacrifices to make that business successful. Shelton said it is time for GE to bring jobs back to the US and help re- industrialize America, stop medical cost shifting on to their employees and honor the retirement benefits you promised your employees.
The Company Chief Negotiator, John Gritti defended the 2011 Contract package in terms of wage gains and the bonus (ACP), new hire gains with their defined contribution plan and "improved" paid time off accrual plan, pension increases and SERO/VRIP "Windows". He defended the new Medial plan of 2011 and its consumer driven health care features saying it's catastrophic coverage design saved many families from out of control expenses and it lowers costs when "consumers" think about submitting a claim (he used auto insurance claims as a similar situation). Gritti also said "wages were out of whack" and lump sums had to be considered, SERO and SERO Windows do not work any longer, and defended the changes to salaried non-union members in regards to post-65 and life insurance. He closed with saying he looked forward to trying to reach a settlement for a "fair contract' that would continue to keep the company competitive by partnering to come up with creative solutions.
Tomorrow, the first full day of bargaining begins. The Company is scheduled in the AM session to make a presentation on our Health Care Plan for Production Employees (covers active members and pre-65 retirees). In the afternoon session, the Union is scheduled to make a presentation on Contract language issues.