For release Nov. 9, 2015
Contact: Ginny Bailey (937) 298-9984
Unions File Class Action Lawsuit Over GE’s Plan to Renege on its Retiree Health Care Obligation
Dayton, Ohio -- A coalition of labor unions lead by the IUE-CWA, Industrial Division of the Communication Workers of America, has filed a federal class action lawsuit against General Electric Company in the Northern District of Ohio today. The coalition includes the members of the GE Coordinated Bargaining Committee: the United Electrical Workers, United Auto Workers, Machinists, Steelworkers, Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Teamsters and the Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers.
The coalition of unions and more than twenty individual retirees contend that GE is violating federal labor law and the Employer Retirement Income Security Act by depriving its post-age 65 retirees of important retiree medical coverage, coverage that these individuals worked for over decades and that was promised in their union contracts.
IUE-CWA President James Clark, chair of the coalition stated, “We are outraged that a very profitable General Electric Corporation would choose to break promises to its retirees during the most vulnerable time of their lives, after they gave decades of service to this company. I am glad these retirees have unions that are willing to step up and fight for justice.”
GE has announced that effective January 1, 2016, it will unilaterally terminate its post-65 retiree medical plans and replace them with an opportunity for retirees to purchase post-65 health insurance coverage from a private broker healthcare exchange selected by the company. GE is offering, for now, a $1,000 yearly credit for its retirees to offset some of the cost of replacing this medical coverage that was being provided by the company. Thousands of GE retirees, particularly those on life saving drugs, are facing much higher drug costs as a result of this change, and GE is refusing to commit to supplying the yearly credit throughout the lives of the retirees.
IUE-CWA and the other labor union plaintiffs are confident that the terms of their labor contracts clearly demonstrate intent by all parties that the benefits negotiated with GE are lifetime benefits for GE retirees.