Navigation Bar

Home -> [ What's New ] -> Bringing GE to Light -> Background


Bringing GE to Light ...

UE - THE Union for GE Workers


Bringing GE to Light ...



UE is known as the Union for GE workers. That’s because of our unmatched experience and record of winning improvements in the General Electric chain.

We negotiated our first contract with GE in 1938. We've been making improvements ever since.

Over sixty years ago, UE began organizing GE workers and won a national contract with GE in 1938. This was the beginning of a nationwide system of wages and benefits for GE workers. We’ve been making improvements ever since.


All GE local unions in UE become part of our union’s GE Conference Board. Each GE Local within UE elects delegates to the Conference Board, which meets several times a year to discuss and review issues of common concern.

UE-GE workers determine the contract proposals that are brought to the bargaining table.

Well in advance of the start of National Contract bargaining, Conference Board delegates review bargaining ideas sent in by locals and begin to draft the proposals that the UE will make to GE once the contract negotiations begin. These proposals are in turn discussed further at each GE local and are subject to ratification by the membership.


Every three years, UE and its GE locals conduct national bargaining with General Electric. That way GE workers in UE cannot be separated from one another and have more ability to win wage, benefit, and contract language improvements.

UE members always have the final say on accepting or rejecting a proposed new contract.

Similarly, since 1969, the UE has also joined with 12 other unions in the Coordinated Bargaining Committee (CBC) of GE unions to exert maximum strength at the bargaining table. However, UE members always make the final decision on the acceptance or rejection of any proposed new contract for themselves based on UE rank and file democracy.


UE is one of only two unions that has a national as opposed to a purely local contract with GE. Newly organized units of GE workers automatically come under the National Agreement, a huge advantage compared to having to negotiate a brand new contract from scratch. Here are a few highlights contained in the UE’S National Contract with General Electric:

  • NATIONAL WAGE AGREEMENT - Annual general wage increases are spelled out for a three year period. In addition there is uncapped cost-of-living clause (COLA) which provides for six additional raises to protect against wages being eaten up by inflation. GE workers in UE now average nearly $22.00 per hour.

  • NIGHT SHIFT BONUS - UE members who work second and third shift receive an additional 10% of pay added to their wage rates.

  • PAID TIME OFF - The UE-GE Contract provides for up to six weeks of paid vacation, depending on service, as well as 11 paid holidays, and up to five sick and personal days per year. Non-exempt salaried employees receive up to 20 sick and 5 personal days per year.

  • SENIORITY RIGHTS - Seniority, not favoritism, is the major factor in job bidding, upgrades, transfers, layoff and recall. Specific detailed procedures for job bidding and reductions in force are negotiated by the local union and local management.

  • GRIEVANCE PROCEDURE AND ARBITRATION - UE-GE members are protected from unjust discipline and discharge by a strong grievance procedure and have the right to submit any unresolved discipline cases to impartial and binding arbitration. The Contract also provides for the legal right to strike over any unresolved grievances, which in UE is done only by democratic vote of the members.

  • JOB AND INCOME SECURITY - The Contract provides for up to six months’ advance notice and the right to bargain concerning any proposed work transfers, or subcontracting. Many jobs have been saved and GE job elimination plans turned around through Local union Job Preservation Steering Committees. Workers who are laid off workers moreover are entitled to a variety of benefits, including Income Extension Aid (IEA) which provides for 75% of pay when combined with Unemployment Compensation.

  • NON-DISCRIMINATION - The Contract expressly provides that GE may not discriminate in employment against any employee with respect to any condition of employment on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, age, or national origin.

  • MEDICAL INSURANCE - UE members in GE bargain and participate in the company-wide Insurance Plans. Insurance coverage includes paid hospital, surgical, prescription drug, vision, and dental care for employees and dependents. Workers on sick leave in addition receive $475 a week in Short Term Disability benefits for up to 26 weeks and are eligible for Long Term Disability benefits thereafter in the event of extended disabilities.

  • PENSION PLAN - UE has played a major role in the negotiation and improvement of the nationwide GE Pension Plan over many years. As a result UE members in GE may retire on a full, unreduced pension at age 60, and even earlier in special situations. In addition there are early retirement supplements to the pension until you are eligible for Social Security, as well as continued full medical benefits, survivorship options, and special provisions for those who are disabled.


The benefits listed above — and many more — could not have been achieved without national bargaining. However it is not surprising that GE is out to weaken the unity of GE workers nationwide, and therefore to erode what we have achieved.

GE's goal: lowering costs on the backs of its workers ... and giving itself free reign to do whatever it wants.

One tactic is to engage in elaborate campaigns, masterminded by GE anti-union specialists, designed to frustrate any attempt by non-union GE workers to organize a democratic union. Their strategy is simple: GE hopes to prevent any additions to union strength which, in turn, would mean the company can negotiate a cheaper deal for itself. It also gives GE a completely free hand to do whatever it wants on a day to day basis at the unorganized location, from speedup schemes, to unjust discipline and favoritism, to compulsory overtime and crazy schedules of hours, to outright chiseling on wages and benefits.

GE claims many GE workers are not GE workers. The point, of course, is to deny many workers the wages and benefits enjoyed by organized GE employees.

Another tactic has to do with the many acquisitions GE is making (averaging about two companies per week in recent years). In many cases, GE sets up an arrangement whereby the acquired company is considered a subsidiary or "affiliated entity". Incredibly, GE then makes the claim that the workers of the newly acquired company are not actually GE employees! Accordingly, in many cases GE does not allow them to participate in the Pension, Insurance, Savings, and other established GE benefits. Nor of course does GE grant them the same annual wage and semiannual COLA raises either. This is not only a raw deal for these workers, but also undermines the unity and standards of GE workers everywhere.


We in UE have always believed that unity and organization is the only way to protect and advance the interests of GE workers. We will continue to work with non-union GE workers to raise their conditions to the same level as UE members and together to continue to improve the UE National Contract.

is the best protection for GE workers..

If you are interested in learning more about UE and how to bring democratic unionism to your workplace, leave us an email, or fill out the accompanying survey about next year’s national negotiations. Or give us a call at 1-800-608-0059. Also watch this page for more articles about UE activities in the GE chain and our preparations for next year’s national bargaining with GE.

Home -> [ What's New] -> Bringing GE to Light -> Background



Home • About UE • Organize! • Independent Unions • Search • Site Guide • What's New • Contact UE
UE News • Political Action • Info for Workers • Resources •  Education • Health & Safety • International • Links

Go to: 

© 2003 UE • About this websiteComments?