Local Leaders Discuss
Developments in GE Chain
Meeting for the first time since the conclusion of national
negotiations last June, delegates to the UE-GE Conference Board discussed
significant changes in the company over the previous six months, and reviewed
developments in their own locations as well.
Local 506 Pres. David Adams reported at the Dec. 15
meeting that more than 130 workers at the Erie location took advantage of the
window feature of the Special Early Retirement Option negotiated last year.
Overall, 148 UE members across the chain were able to take advantage of this
Local 506 Bus. Agent Pat Rafferty, who chaired the
meeting, reported on some significant breakthroughs on longstanding insurance
and disability problems in the local, resulting in substantial amounts of
backpay in some cases.
Conference Board delegates took a close look at GE’s $45
billion takeover of Honeywell. Research Dir. Lisa Frank traced the
company’s history and analyzed its various divisions and product lines,
pointing out that the acquisition will bring a significant number of
manufacturing workers and union members into GE both in the U.S. and abroad.
The takeover represents both an opportunity and a challenge to us.
UE’s policy of intensive membership communication and
involvement was unsurpassed by any other member-union in the Coordinated
Bargaining Committee, asserted Genl. Pres. John Hovis. He noted that
membership involvement was the most important factor in the last round of
contract negotiations. Hovis commended the GE locals for their excellent work
in support of the negotiating committee. UE will continue to advocate a
greater role for local officers and members within the CBC, he said.
NEW GE CEO
Jeffrey Immelt will become GE’s CEO within a year. The
union’s only encounter with him came during the 1995 election campaign at
the GE plastics plant in Parkersburg, W. Va., Conference Board Sec. Steve
Tormey reminded delegates. Delegates received copies of Immelt’s
anti-union, captive-audience speech.
GE has revised its "Integrity" policy, first
promulgated in 1993 in the wake of several major scandals and fraudulent
activity involving GE executives. Tormey observed that the the revised policy,
like the original, contains nothing about violations of labor law. Tormey also
reviewed some of the numerous changes in benefits scheduled to take effect at
the first of the year.
Delegates also heard a report from Political Action Dir. Chris
Townsend on the recent elections and what can be expected on the political
UE News - 01/01