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Local 506 Stewards
Make News
For Their
Job Preservation Efforts


David Kitchen, Local 506 chief plant steward
David Kitchen, Local 506 chief plant steward, was interviewed in September by a national publication on the union’s job preservation work at the Erie GE plant.

The efforts of Local 506 to make the most of the job-preservation language in the UE-General Electric National Agreement received a detailed examination in On the Line, a guide for union stewards published by the Bureau of National Affairs as a supplement to its Union Labor Report.

On the Line reports that the 200 UE stewards at GE’s Erie 13-building manufacturing complex see in that contract language "the possibility of building an institutional model for unions fighting for jobs in a cut-throat corporate environment quick to downsize and outsource unionized work."

The 1997 contract first opened the door to job preservation steering committees, giving the union a new forum to argue for job retention and against outsourcing and transfer of work.

"What we decided between the 1997 and 2000 contracts was to build our own job preservation committee in response to GE’s efforts to downsize, ship out, and outsource our jobs," David Kitchen, Local 506 chief plant steward, told On the Line.


Local 506 developed an inventory, building by building, skill by skill, of how the facility operated, detailing the use of personnel, raw materials, energy, profiles of every process and all production capacities.

So when the UE committee met with its managerial counterpart, as required by the contract, Kitchen reported, union members were "better informed than management. We wanted to be better than they were. If there were ways to do [a job] better, we wanted to come up with ways to do it, rather than them."

"The result," says On the Line, "was a series of successes starting in 1997 in keeping work within the union. At the same time, Kitchen said, ‘our efforts had a side effect. We made the company look much harder at what they were choosing to outsource and farm out. We were losing far less work and, in fact, bringing work back in to the point that we could prove that we were more competitive.’

Local 506 also led a successful effort to strengthen language in the contract on job preservation. The new agreement increases the number of plant-level meetings, and also provides for meetings at the corporate level between the company and national union leadership.

UE News - 02/01

Home -> UE News -> 2001 Archives -> Article

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