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Prepare Contract Demands


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Conference Board delegates prepare for negotiations ...

Conference Board

Hearing reports and debating contract proposals ...

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 Conference Board.

Negotiations open on May 30 in New York.


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 Committee (CBC).

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 ( 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 company.

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.

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