No Surprises as UE
Local Leaders Briefed
On GEs Billions in Profit
UE General President John Hovis
reports on multi-union preparations for 2000 negotiations
Leaders of UE locals in the General Electric chain were not surprised to
learn that their employer is doing very, very well when they received a detailed report on
the companys finances at a meeting of the unions GE Conference Board here
In an analysis of data from the recently released GE Annual Report,
UE Research Dir. David Alexander pointed out that GE revenues are up 20 percent
since 1996, 80 percent since 1993. GE enjoyed net profits of $9.3 billion in 1998
13 percent better than 1997 and a gain of 28 percent since 1996.
That profits are increasing faster than sales reflects the ever-growing
productivity of GE workers, said Alexander. Last year, each GE worker produced an average
of $31,727 in net profits. After-tax profits per worker are up 135 percent over the past
Local 506 delegates give their
attention to the discussion.
The UE research director revealed that the GE Pension Fund is now 58
percent overfunded, with a surplus of nearly $16 billion. Plan assets are growing twice as
fast as benefit obligations. Since 1987, when GE last made a contribution to the fund,
employees have contributed over $1 billion or $6,424 per worker, on average,
One current employee is unlikely to complain about his pension when he
leaves the company. CEO Jack Welch looks forward to a minimum annual pension
benefit of $4.8 million a 171 percent replacement rate, Alexander noted.
Starting with a base salary of $2.8 million, Welchs total
compensation in 1998 reached nearly $40 million, the UE research director pointed out. In
addition, Welch made more than $46.5 million last year by exercising his stock options;
his remaining stock options total $133,620,000.
Local 707 Pres. Larry Harnak
reports developments at the Cleveland service shop; Terry Taylor of Local 751 listens in
The worrying message in the financial report was the continuing downturn
in GEs U.S. employment despite the companys prosperity; U.S. jobs have
declined 36 percent over the past 10 years.
Most delegates reported steady work at their locations, as well as
continuing problems with outsourcing.
At the Erie locomotive plant, Local 506 is working to define plant
capacity to offset the effects of a future downturn in orders, said Pres. David Adams.
Local 332 members are responding skeptically to the findings of a
GE-funded study that PCBs are not carcinogenic, reported Pres. Joyce Sumner; their
plant was at the center of notorious PCB-pollution scandal. Meanwhile, the local has so
far successfully blocked the companys "jackpot" safety proposal, under
which workers would receive "prizes" for meeting certain safety criteria
established by GE. Bus. Agent Bob Brown told delegates that Local 332 is demanding
a full and equal voice on all safety matters, rather than gimmicks which would allow the
company to evade its responsibility.
Erie management has restructured its union relations operations, Local
506 Plant Chief Steward David Kitchen reported, but there is "no kinder,
gentler GE." The Local 506 unity committee is working to resolve complaints of race
and sex discrimination and avoid disciplinary action while building unity
among GE workers, Bus. Agent Patrick Rafferty said.
Steve Tormey (left), secretary of
the GE Conference Board, shares information as Local 506 Pres. Dave Adams considers the
agenda. Adams served as conference board chairperson.
Grievance activity has markedly increased during the first quarter of
1999, reported Steve Tormey, Conference Board secretary. Last year saw a record low
in national-level grievances.
Genl. Pres. John Hovis led a lengthy discussion on the Coordinating
Bargaining Committee of GE Unions (CBC). A meeting of CBC local union leaders in Memphis
on June 25 will be followed with a rally in support of workers at the IUE lamp plant
there, which is slated for closing.
Delegates heard a report from Political Action Dir. Chris Townsend
on the unions upcoming Political Action Conference and on key areas of anti-labor
legislative attack which have resurfaced in Congress.