Genl. Pres. John
Hovis, right, who will lead the UE bargaining team in national talks with
General Electric, offers his perspective. Also pictured are Local 506 Pres.
Dave Adams, who chaired the Conference Board meeting, and Conference Board
Sec. Steve Tormey.
Conference Board delegates took a first step toward
preparing contract proposals. Talks with GE open May 30 in New York.
With the start of national negotiations between UE and General
Electric barely half a year away, delegates from UE locals in the GE chain
gave preliminary attention to contract proposals at a meeting of the union’s
GE Conference Board here Dec. 9.
The final version of UE contract demands will be competed at
the Conference Board meeting scheduled for March before being sent to locals
for ratification. Conference Board Sec. Steve Tormey encouraged locals
to continue discussion of proposals with members and to submit demands to the
Negotiations open on May 30 in New York.
KEY ROLE IN NEGOTIATIONS
One of 14 unions bargaining with GE, UE is one of only two
unions with a national contract with the global corporate giant. Representing
5,000 workers, UE is the second-largest GE union in the Coordinated Bargaining
UE will again have a key role in negotiations, said Genl.
Pres. John Hovis, who will lead the UE negotiating committee. In a
comprehensive report on developments within the CBC, Hovis said UE will
cooperate with the CBC program while continuing to prepare for negotiations
with UE-produced leaflets, fact sheets, rallies and membership education.
Intl. Rep. Chris Townsend, who has represented the union
at a variety of CBC meetings in Washington, supplemented Hovis’s report on
activity within the CBC.
Pres. Hovis stressed the importance of membership activity in
his remarks to Conference Board participants.
Various contract subcommittees will meet in Washington Feb.
23-24; the International Metalworkers Federation will sponsor a meeting of GE
union representatives from around the world in Washington on March 22-23,
Hovis reported. Regional rallies will include a rally hosted by UE Locals 506
and 618 in Erie on June 3.
Information on the negotiations will be available on the UE
website in a new section exclusively devoted to GE and the upcoming
negotiations. A link to the CBC website (www.gecontract2000.com)
is available at the UE site.
Conference Board Sec. Tormey warned that GE is planning
another major round of shifting insurance costs to employees in the 2000
negotiations, particularly with regard to prescription drugs. He forecast that
this would include restrictions or outright denial of payment for popular new
drugs and subjection of certain other prescriptions to approval by GE or Medco,
instead of by the insured’s attending physician.
We will have to start alerting the membership and preparing to
resist this coming attack as soon as possible, Tormey said.
In local reports, Local 506 Pres. Dave Adams detailed
several successful negotiations at the Erie locomotive plant which have
resulted in work being returned to the plant. Local 1010 Rec. Sec. Nita
Gonzalez said union members at the Ontario, Calif. jet engine facility are
responding vigorously to GE’s proposed removal of two lines of engine work
to Scotland and Brazil. Local 1010 is responding with media and political
attention exposing how GE uses state funding for training workers only to move
the jobs elsewhere. The local has also served a 24-hour strike notice on the
Local 618 Pres. Betsy Potter, whose local represents
non-exempt salaried workers at the Erie plant, reported the union had staved
off GE from issuing a WARN notice for the graphic arts department. The company
has been hiring at the Fort Edward, N.Y. capacitor plant where Local 332
successfully fought to have four employees re-employed who had exhausted
recall rights, said Local Pres. Joyce Sumner.
UE News - 01/00