Historic Local 201 History Class a Big Success
VRIP OPPORTUNITIES MAY BE
national economic crisis taking a deepening toll on the Aviation and
Aerospace industries, GE Lynn management informed Local 201, on Wed
April 22, that they were considering increasing the number of
VRIP opportunities in Lynn. There were approximately 192
applicants out of an eligible pool of approximately 439 (employees
60 years and older with 10 or more Years of continuous service) that
applied by the deadline on Friday April 17.The “cap” number of
opportunities had been set at 100 for the Lynn facility at that
Labor-Community Coalition Protests Bank AbusesFREE CHOICE FOR UNIONS! STOP FORECLOSURES!
201 members, other NSLC unions, and Lynn community groups took to
the streets on Saturday, March 28, to protest Bank of America’s
on-going opposition to the Employee Free Choice Act and continued
home foreclosures after accepting billions of taxpayer dollars in
In protest of the Bank of America receiving $25 billion in government funds and still fighting unions and foreclosing on homes, a delegation of four took a huge “check” into the Market St. Bank of America office. The check was stamped “STOP PAYMENT!” For some reason the bank manager didn’t want to receive the stop payment order, so the delegation left the “check” on the counter in the office.
Union approves offering
The GE Aviation Division has now officially offered a Voluntary Retirement Incentive Program (VRIP) for May 1, 2009. It will apply to March 1, 2009 and April 1, 2009 Retirements also, but, if the $16,000 Bonus was received by those retirees, the new incentive will be adjusted accordingly.
This Program was offered to GE’s Consumer & Industrial Division for March 1, 2009 and GE’s Energy Division for April 1st. This VRIP Program (for hourly and non-exempts) also follows on the heels of the Voluntary Job Elimination (VJE) program for management exempts through which approximately 100 Lynn employees left on April 1, 2009.
Under this VRIP Program that includes hourly, emplyees 60 years and older with 10 or more years of continuous service, can opt to voluntary sever employment and receive “a lump sum payment of a gross amount equal to 75% of the participant’s annual wage.” “Annual Wage” is “the participant’s regular hourly wage rate as of April 1, 2009 multiplied by his/her regularly scheduled annual hours of work, typically 2080.” Night shift differential is included. Overtime is excluded.
However, there are capped numbers of slots for each location (100 for Lynn). The 100 cap for Lynn includes planners, drafters, and certain non-exempt salaried positions as well as IUE-CWA Local 201 members. Those chosen will be the highest 100 in “continuous service”.
IUE-CWA Conference Board Chairman Bob Santamoor approved the offering to IUE-CWA GE Aviation union members on March 26, 2009, after previous discussions with the company on the outline and benefit levels of the program. All in all, 485 offerings for VRIP are occurring across the country at Aviation facilities at this time.
These retirement incentive programs across the GE Divisions appear to be an attempt by the Company to adjust the size of the workforce to the deteriorating state of the economy and the major cancelling of orders occurring across many of the divisions.
Lynn GE management held informational meetings for anyone eligible on Thursday, April 2 in the Bldg 2-96 auditorium. Local 201 had representatives in attendance. Members received the details on the program and application packets should they wish to apply. Applications and acknowledgements, as well as signed PEN 1 forms, must be received by the Company by Friday, April 17, 2009 to be considered according to the Company’s letter to eligible hourly employees. (4/7/09)
Extra Retirement Incentive May Be Offered
The national and
international economic slide, reported on in the last feature story
of the IUE-CWA Local 201 News [below on this web page],
is now causing a deepening negative impact in the
aviation/aerospace industry. US domestic air traffic has dropped 6%
and cargo air traffic is down about 30%. Approximately 1,700
Aircraft have been taken out of service. Boeing 787 cancellations
may lead to a significant cut in production in 2009. Bombardier is
cutting production by 10% and Cessna by 20%. Cancelations or push
out of CF-34 orders continue to rise. There is a large gap of about
$10 Billion in financing monies to purchase new Aircraft. Meanwhile,
some forecasts predict bank funding, may fall 40% in 2009.
To adjust to this severe economic downturn and restructure, GE has been instituting a series of headcount reduction programs that began with GE Capital. A Voluntary Job Elimination (VJE) Program was offered to many exempt salaried and management across its different businesses. The program had economic incentives in it for people to retire or to leave voluntarily. In Aviation, the date individuals leave is April 1, 2009. Many Lynn exempts and management individuals have accepted this offer.
GE’s Consumer and Industrial Division (Louisville, Lighting plants, etc.) was the first business that GE Corporate approached our national IUE-CWA Conference Board Chairman about, offering a special retirement bonus (significantly above the $16,000 layoff connected retirement bonus in our contract) to many hourly, union salaried and non-exempt individuals 60 and older with 10 or more year’s service. After some discussion on the incentive and how it would work, the national Union approved that incentive program being offered to union members in that Division. Those retirements in Consumer and Industrial occurred March 1, 2009. Then, GE approached the national Union about implementing the same program in their Energy Division (Schenectady, etc). After approval by the national Union, that program is now currently being offered with an April 1, 2009 retirement date in the Energy Division.
Under this program, GE reportedly sets a “CAP LIMIT” by location (plant) on how many individuals will be offered it at each separate location. This is apparently for two reasons- first, because of the amount of work currently at different locations varies and second, because GE is restructuring their business for future work at different sites once there is some economic recovery. However, unlike the management/exempts program, if the number volunteering is higher then the location CAP LIMIT, these programs involving hourly use length of continuous service to decide who gets to go under the program.
Last week, Local 201 Business Agent Ric Casilli told the GE Grievance Board that he had just learned that GE was considering making a retirement package available in their Aviation business because of some of the worsening economic indicators now taking a toll on this business too. The Business Agent said “It’s not official yet but they are thinking of offering the same program that apparently has been offered in Consumer & Industrial and their Energy Divisions.” He further stated “they are considering a target date of May 1, 2009 for the Aviation plants across the country.” Local 201 has not received any official written communications from the Company or national Union on the details of the plan or what the CAP LIMITS would be for Lynn. However, reportedly the offer is a retirement bonus equal to 75% of your annual pay based on a 40 hour week including NSB if you are on a back shift. Later in the week, Casilli reported that it appeared “highly likely” the program would be offered to Aviation and then the national Union would need to sign off on it by early April for it to take effect for a May 1, 2009 date. Casilli said reports he is hearing have the CAP LIMIT for LYNN “somewhere in the 100 person range, but that is not definite.”
Casilli, along with Local
201 President Jeff Crosby, and Delegates Ted Comick
and Lenny Redican will be attending the GE/AEROSPACE National
Union Meetings from March 12 -15 and some more information on this
may be available. However, it is expected there will be nothing
official one way or the other on this for Aviation until possibly
the first week of April. Local 201 will keep our members posted.
As the new President inked his name to the new “American Recovery and Reinvestment Act” (ARRA) on February 17, recent statistics from the economic front continue to paint a worsening picture of the state of things. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that “over the last 13 months, a record 3.6 million American jobs have been lost”. By comparison, BLS statistics show a loss of 1.6 million jobs in the 1990-1991 recession and 2.7 million jobs in the 2001 recession.
On February 13, the BLS then reported that “employers laid off a record 508,859 workers in the fourth quarter of 2008” alone, a 69% increase in layoffs over the fourth quarter of 2007. According to the Bureau, manufacturing workers were especially hard hit, accounting for 185,686 layoffs (35% of the total), even though manufacturing jobs represent less then 10% of all jobs in the United States. The Midwest was hardest hit followed by the West.
As if this news was not bad enough, GM then announced they would need $16 billion more of TARP ( Troubled Asset Relief Program) monies and would have to cut 47,000 more jobs to stay out of bankruptcy; while Chrysler wants $5 billion more while forecasting 3,000 more job cuts. The automakers announced they had reached a “tentative agreement” (outside of the funding of the retirees health care trust) with the UAW on restructuring before their plan could be submitted to Washington for the additional funds.
Details of the agreement reached were being withheld until the issues on the funding of the retirees health care trust were resolved and UAW members had discussions and votes on the package. Needless to say, the package is not likely to be good for autoworkers considering the instability of the automakers and many dangerous corporate/political forces making a scapegoat of the UAW. Some of these forces have been promoting outright lies about the autoworkers (like the lie they make $71.00 an hour when they make closer to $30 and new hires $14).
In the meantime, the Aviation /Aerospace Industry has been reporting pushed out and cancelled commercial orders, as the recession has been deepening with air travel down and customers unable to obtain financing. Layoffs, reductions, budget tightening, investment cuts, and freeing up cash have become the catchwords of the day. Reports of management and hourly layoffs are slowly coming in from around the country.
At our plants, GE in Lynn and Ametek Aerospace in Wilmington, voluntary job elimination programs and possibly other cutback plans for management are in motion. At this time, GE is holding to its forecast of no hourly layoffs “to the street” in Lynn, despite the forecasted reductions in the Gear Plant. The impact has been more of a hiring freeze and reduction of overtime. GE Lynn is still reporting good orders for the military programs in 2009, especially T700 engines. This comes on the heels of a great performance in 2008 by the entire Lynn workforce. Ametek has also not announced any further hourly cutbacks.
AMERICAN RECOVERY AND REINVESTMENT ACT (ARRA)
With the signing of the ARRA into law on February 17, the White House says it is taking the first step to create jobs, jump start growth and transform the slumping economy. The compromise package of $787 + Billion is being promoted as creating or saving 3.5 million jobs over the next two years. It has been estimated, by sources published on government web sites, that the Act will create 79,000 jobs for Massachusetts and16,000 jobs for New Hampshire. The breakdown of the $787+ Billion is as follows:
Of course, it is not known whether this Act will work, but most financial pundits agree something had to be done and done fast. Many feel much more will need to be done in the immediate future. It also is a fact that it is not just the US economy in trouble but the whole “global” economy.
Local 201, the IUE-CWA, the CWA, most other unions, and many other organizations also believe much more needs to be done. The Labor Agenda wants at least three more key areas addressed during the next year. They are the passage of the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), real health care reform, and reversing the disastrous effect of the so called “Free Trade Laws” from the Clinton/Bush eras.
In regards to the latter item, the Citizens Trade Campaign on February 5, 2009 sent a Letter to members of Congress on behalf of a coalition of hundreds of Unions (including Local 201) and many other organizations. It details a whole host of specific suggestions which need to be adopted to reverse the impact of all the unfair trade laws and practices currently existing. It concludes “We believe the 2008 TRADE REFORM, ACCOUNTABILITY, DEVELOPMENT and EMPLOYMENT (TRADE) ACT- put forward in the 110th Congress by Senator Sherrod Brown, Representative Mike Michaud and over eighty of their House and Senate colleagues- offers a helpful roadmap for new policies that could build a consensus in favor of expanded trade”.
Local 201 members, with computer access, should visit the CWA and AFL-CIO web sites regularly and make sure you are sending support messages to your government representatives and the White House in support of these issues. Working people need their voices heard in shaping any recovery plans, especially after being pretty much ignored for the last 25 year period while the economy has been driven into the ground.
If you have no computer
access, the phone and old fashion letters will be fine.
For further information contact Local 201 IUE-CWA at (781) 598-2760
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