Contract 2007

  Contract Updates (click this link for the reports from NYC)


 

 

 GE New Holiday, Pay, and Pension Increase Information

* PAY RAISES
 - The Company has indicated to us they expect the first general 3% wage increase, NSB increase, and Skilled Trades increase to be in our checks issued July 26th.  The raises will be retroactive back to June 18th.  The Company has indicated the retroactive payportion will either be in our July 26th check or in August 9th checks

 * PENSION INCREASES -  Guaranteed Pension table increases, the first pension supplement increases, and the new pension update increases all apply to retirements now.   However, the update does not “kick in” until December 1, 2007 pension checks (not retroactive).  The current retirees’ pension increases also “kick in” in their December 2007 pension checks.

 * NEW HOLIDAY -  Formulating the Union’s position on negotiating what will be our new holiday, will be the subject of Union Board discussions and, in all likelihood, a vote of ourMembership at our August 21st Membership Meeting.  Whereas we currently have Veteran’s Day off, I am currently in support of attempting to reach agreement with the Company to make the new holiday a “floating holiday”—allowing members to choose any day they want to take off, including taking it for one of our two “observed” unpaid holidays (Patriot’s Day or Columbus Day).  But this will be up for democratic discussion by all of you.
 


GE CONTRACT RATIFIED BY LOCAL 201 AND NATIONALLY

     The 2007 GE Contract was officially ratified by IUE-CWA Nationally on Wednesday, June
27, 2007 by a 79% to 21% margin.  All other 13 CBC International Unions have also reported approval nationally.  The margins of acceptance of locals varied significantly with some approvals reportedly over 90% while others were just over 50%.  Local 201’s vote was 1080 to accept and 479 to reject, a 69.3% approval vote.                                    
     The Contract gained widespread national approval, despite some “hits” members and pre-65 retirees took in increased medical contributions (beginning in 1/1/08) and the loss  of Post-65 supplement insurances for post          Local 201 Stewards' Contract Ratification Meeting
12-31-07 new hires.  (In most cases 30 – 40 years into the future.)
     Reasons for the broad acceptance vote included decent improvements in wages (with a COLA and a Skilled Trades adder) and pensions, and the retention of the SERO/Bonus Programs (Job Security) and early retirement “Windows”.  Improvements in STD, dental, and winning anadditional holiday certainly helped the package.   There were also a number of new coverages added for members in the CMB Medical Plan.
     The Unions were successful in stopping 5 of the 7 cutbacks that non-union salaried GE new hires have received, improved the NSB, and gained the new folks extra vacation time to use during their first 2 years.
     Also popular among members was being able to secure a raise for current retirees built into their monthly checks and structured properly to help those retired the longest and in most need.  It was not enough, but still was a significant gain for those who “legally” do not have Union representation rights at the negotiating table.
      Local 201 would like to thank our members, stewards, contract captains, and canvassers for all their hard work talking to members, boosting membership attendance at all 2007 Union meetings, the “stand-out”, the “community forum”, the Erie trip, and the strong support shown at the deadline.  Your actions and mobilization made this contract much better than it would have been and you all should be proud of yourselves!

                       Local 201: Standing for the Future!   June 12th, 2007


GE CONTRACT NEGOTIATIONS                    
DOWN TO LAST 6 DAYS                              Erie Contract Rally   
FRICTION AREAS ABOUND

     National Contract Negotiations between GE and IUE-CWA, GE and UE, and the other 12 directly impacted CBC unions, have entered the final week and there are still many friction areas that need to be resolved for there to be any “tentative agreement”
     The current National Contract between IUE-CWA and GE expires this Sunday, June 17, at midnight, but it is anticipated there will be a 10 day extension period (per usual) to allow the Unions to review and conduct any necessary votes on any GE proposal or possible “tentative agreement”.  It is expected that the Unions may receive a final offer this Sunday sometime.
Union Seeking Significant Pension Increases for Current Members and Retirees
     With GE Pension Fund Assets at about $55 Billion, and over funded by $15.5 Billion, it is a reasonable expectation that any GE offer should significantly “boot up” the pensions of those currently working and rectify some of the disgraceful situations of many current retirees living on frozen pension incomes of between $500 and $800 a month. It is difficult for any Company to justify that the Pension Plan is administered fairly when it pays out approximately $800,000 a month to former CEO Jack Welch. Any Contract offer that does not address the needs of members and retirees in the Pension area will likely receive little support.
              Union Seeks Improvement in the $.60 Two Tier NSB Problem
     The union is also seeking to rectify some of the disparity that was caused back in the late 1980’s when the Company rammed through a two tier Night Shift Bonus system, where new hires have to wait 5 years to get the 10% NSB differential, receiving NSB compensation of only $.60 per hour for the period. The Company, back then, originally proposed eliminating the 10% for everyone calling it an “aberration”. The Unions resisted that full frontal attack, but compromised in the 1988 agreement, limiting it to new hires only. The Unions, at the time, were “reeling” from job losses and layoffs and had their sights set on improving and winning Job and Income Security provisions (like SERO, IEA, BONUSES, etc). The Unions did win important gains in these areas, but took a “hit” on the new hire NSB. The $.60 per hour has lost over 50% of its value due to inflation and is a sore spot in many locations that have now had many new hires.
                    Union Wants Further Medical Cost Shifting Held Down
                             Improvements in Retiree Medical Benefits
     The union is also intent on holding down further shifting of medical costs from GE to our members. The US Health care system is in rough shape.  Corporations have been trying to shift more and more medical costs onto their employees, and GE is no exception. GE shifted more costs onto employees 4 years ago in the form of higher contributions, co-pays, deductibles and prescription drugs.  Their total Health Care costs have risen over the last 4 years, but not at the level they anticipated and, as a percentage of profits and revenue, the costs have been stable. In addition, GE’s Health Care division has profited to the tune of over $3 billion in 2006. There is no need for drastic increases on the backs of members and current retiree costs are already too high where they are living on a frozen Pension, without dental, vision, or hearing aid coverage. 
                 Unions Defending SERO, Bonuses and SERO “Window”
     The Company has made it clear that they intend to “modify” or eliminate these programs. 
     SERO (Special Early Retirement Option) and the Retirement/Voluntary Layoff Bonus programs grew out of the fight for Job Security. It was negotiated in the 1980’s to protect less senior members from forced layoffs, while allowing older members the chance to retire with extra benefits at an earlier age. It is at the heart of the union’s job and income security provisions, whereas GE refuses to provide any real job security provisions. It is not for sale!!     The SERO “window” program was the Company’s response to union demands for “30 and out” and Early Retirement. It came in the 1997 Contract.  It has allowed many older workers a chance for early retirement without a layoff event and has guaranteed that there would be a replacement so no job would be lost. Thus, it has allowed new hires to come in off the street. Despite strong bellyaching by GE that it is too expensive and an administrative “nightmare”, GE should take note that they get some savings on the other end by replacing the older workers with younger workers who have less vacation, sick & personal time, are less prone to injury and sickness, and generally are more productive.  30 years may not be a long time in the white collar office world, but it takes a toll on an industrial worker on the shop floor. Taking away this program will meet some stiff resistance.
                  Union Attempting to Stop a 7 Prong Attack on New Hires
     On Jan 1, 2005 GE changed retirement and benefits rules for exempt salaried (and many non-exempts) hired after that date. Now, they are indicating they want to do the same for union new hires.  GE said they need to address “legacy” costs. It was a multi-pronged attack on salaried new hires in at least 7 general areas: (1) it raised their normal retirement age to get an unreduced Pension from 60 to 62 or 65 depending on service, (2) it eliminated their pension supplements, (3) it eliminated Company subsidized pre-65 health benefits, (4) it eliminated all post 65 health coverage, (5) it reduced their Retiree Life Insurance down to a flat $15,000, (6) it made them ineligible for SERO, PCPO and SSBO programs, and (7) it reduces the amount of pension if retired on a disability Pension.
     It appears GE is not only intent on ignoring those who came before us, our retired “fathers” with the frozen meager pensions and high health care costs, but they intend to make things even worse for our “kids”, the next generation coming behind us. This package of cuts is not being well received at the negotiating table. Unionists have institutional pride in protecting people coming after us, as our forefathers did for us. These 2 tier systems become more divisive over time and weaken morale, unity, and the Union. It has been, along with retiree issues, the most emotional subject at the 2007 negotiating table and has the potential to blow up a successful negotiating process.
                                         Other Areas of Concern
     There are many other areas of concern not mentioned here. The above issues seem to be the major friction or general concern areas. There are obviously other important issues to the Union likeWages, COLA, Paid time Off, Job Security language, STD & LTDI, Vision, and Dental Care to name a few. These will all be hot debate topics and some of them could be stumbling blocks.
     Members need to stand up and make sure the Company is clear that you stand behind getting a fair and decent Contract and that you are prepared to Strike if the offer does not meet your standards.


Contract 2007
                             GE NEGOTIATIONS OPEN IN NYC

     On Monday, May 21 National Negotiations between IUE-CWA and GE opened up at theLondon NYC Hotel in downtown Manhattan.  Opening simultaneously at the same location were National Negotiations between the UE and GE.
     These National Agreements cover approximately 15,000 Union members and set the wage and benefit pattern for another approximately 8,000 members in 12 other unions (IAM, UAW, Teamsters, IFPTE, etc.) inside GE nationally.  All the unions are members of the Coordinated Bargaining Committee (CBC) formed in 1969 promoting unity to deal with GE’s “take it or leave it” style of bargaining.
                      REALLY TOUGH NEGOTIATIONS ANTICIPATED  
          Local 201 Business Agent Ric Casilli is a member of IUE-CWA’s National Negotiating team and will be in New York for most of the next 4 ½ weeks.  It is Casilli’s fourth National GE Negotiations and he feels this one could be the toughest.  Before leaving for New York, Casilli stated “You’ve got to be seriously concerned when GE has so early, clearly, and repeatedly stated their intentions.  It is no mystery what GE wants—big medical contribution increases, no SERO “Window”, negative changes to SERO and a 4-prong attack on new hires’ future retirement rights and benefits!”
       Casilli’s remarks reflect the fact that GE has made these points clear in numerous “Focus” communications and they are being repeated by management in shops around the country.            
       “This whole package of negative stuff has soured many national negotiators”, Casilli reports, “particularly the thought of hurting people that come after us, and messing with the SERO program – a major job security provision protecting younger workers from forced layoffs.”                         
                           WANT IMPROVEMENTS, NOT TAKE - AWAYS
       Union negotiators want to be discussing improvements (not take-aways) that address the real needs of members and retirees.  Having racked up over $20 billion in profits last year, there is no justification for discussing “take-aways”.  Significant pension plan improvements are needed forcurrent members.  Current retirees need a pension increase, a minimum guaranteed pension, and automatic pension adjustments to deal with inflation.  
       The Union is also looking for medical, dental and vision plan improvements while holding members’ costs for such plans down.
       Job security again will be a major theme, with farm-out and plant closings continuing to be a problem.  GE never has provided real job security and ironically now is even whining about the cost of things like the SERO program.  SERO came into the contract in the 1980’s as a “job security compromise” - the outgrowth of  anger created by GE’s elimination of thousands of jobs.       
      The Unions are also seeking decent wage increases and feel members are long overdue for improvements in the paid time off area.                                                       
       The National Contract expires June 17, 2007 but it is anticipated that a 10-day extension will be agreed per tradition.  If a tentative agreement is reached on a new National Agreement, it is likely a national membership vote would occur about June 26.  National IUE-CWA leaders have been telling members since last October, to prepare themselves for a potential strike.



201 Members pour out their support
             GE RETIREES FIGHT FOR PENSION FAIRNESS GROWS

      An estimated 700-800 GE Retirees and members (over the course of an hour and a half period) protested outside the GE River Works gate on Aril 20th.  A simple message was delivered—GE Retirees need a pension increase and relief fromskyrocketing medical expenses.
      Organized by the Local 201 Retiree’s Council and IUE-CWA Local 201, the protest was over triple the size of previous retiree protests in the last few years.  It also came on the heels of a large turnout by retirees at Local 201’s March Membership Meeting.  Despite difficult logistics (caused by recent changes on Western Ave and the Fairchild Street gate), traffic flowed smoothly thanks to the cooperation of Security, Lynn Police, Union Officials and Sgt-at-Arms.
      Local 201 members’ generosity to the Retirees Council also shattered the previous $3,264 collection record.  A whopping $5,009 was donated by members this time.  
      The Lynn Rally followed a similar large protest in Schenectady, NY by IUE-CWA Local 301 and their Retiree’s Council.  That one was also reportedly much larger than previous ones held there.  
                                          $16 BILLION OVERFUNDED
      Local 201 Retirees Council President Kevin Mahar explained this growing support by pointing to the fact that GE retirees have not had a pension increase in 7 years.  Mahar stated to the crowd at the rally “With $54 billion in the GE pension fund and an overfunded surplus of over $16 billion, GE can well afford to improve the situation of current pensioners.”
                                       201 MEMBERS MARCH OUT GATES
      Following a long informational picket line down the Western Ave sidewalk, Local 201 PresidentJeff Crosby kicked off the rally.   “The Unions are not just fighting for ourselves, but all working people in this country.”  He thanked our members, who were pouring out the gates, building by building, in a massive show of support for the retirees.  A number of buildings including Bldg. 63 FSC and LPDD Bldg. 42, marched out behind building “banners”.  One sign from Bldg. 63 stated “Shame on GE – Increase the pension and keep medical costs down!”
      Signs abounded at the rally with GE “Hall of Shame” photos showing some retirees getting just over $500 monthly while former GE CEO Jack Welch pockets a disgusting $800,000 pension per month.  Retirees and members were blowing whistles at the protest symbolizing that they were “blowing the whistle” on the blatant inequities of GE pension plan payouts.  In the background, Plant IV retiree Jim Brennan’s CD blared out the song entitled “The Plight of the GE Pensioner”. 
MANAGEMENT RETIREE SUPPORTS  EFFORTS
      An emotional moment came when Walter Horan, a 1992 management retiree stated “We’re all in this together.”  Shaking from a medical condition, Mr. Horan stated emphatically, “I could qualify for that ‘Wall of Shame’ as medical and insurance costs have taken away most of my pension check.”
                                         YOUNG AND OLDER SUPPORT
      Then, Bldg. 74 Grinder Dustin Wheaton testified that his GE retired grandfather gets a pension of approximately $495 a month and that “almost all of it goes to medical”.
      Hazel Gaudet, a North Shore leader of Mass Senior Action (Statewide organization that fights for senior issues) announced “I am here today to support the local in your struggle to get a raise for pensioners.”  She spoke about her personal meager pension and how her organization was bringing the seniors’ fight to the State House.
                                             CONTRACT NEGOTIATIONS
      The testimony and speeches concluded with Ric Casilli (201 BA and member of the IUE-CWA National Negotiating Committee) proclaiming: “We need pension improvement for both those still working and those retired.  Retirees have not received a raise in 7 years and that is not acceptable!”  Casilli concluded “We have the biggest array of demands, for both current and future retirees to be presented at the table beginning May 21st in NYC.......That’s not the problem.  The problem is having the ability to secure them and that requires increased support activities!”
                                                   
                  MOMENT OF SILENCE
      Kevin  Mahar then held a long moment of silence for Jennifer Harris and Jarrod Raymond and their families (two Swampscott soldiers recently killed in the Iraq war), and for the victims and families of the recent Virginia Tech shootings.
Note:  During the protest, members were signing petitions in support of a pension increase for current retirees and wishing retirees heading for the GE Shareholder’s Meeting in Greenville, S.C. April 25.... “good luck” in the continuing fight for dignity and justice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Click on subject below to bring up more detail

Pension Presentation and Retiree Rally

UE's Tormey on GE HealthCare Fact and Fiction

Unions Get Ready for Tough Negoiations 

Local 201 Survey Results

NSB in 2007