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Job Security
Focus of GE
Conference Board
Meeting in Erie


Retirees Association of General Electric - RAGE - mobilized outside the Erie, Pa. GE plant gates on April 19
UE-GE Conference Board meeting ...   Above, the Retirees Association of General Electric — RAGE — mobilized outside the Erie, Pa. GE plant gates on April 19 to demand a pension increase. They were joined by members of UE Locals 506 and 618. Speakers were Local 506 Pres. Randy Majewski, Intl. Rep. Stephen Tormey and RAGE Pres. Charlie Fry. At right, at the April 18 UE-GE Conference Board meeting; from left, Tormey, Local 506 Bus. Agent Pat Rafferty who chaired the meeting, and Genl. Pres. John Hovis.

Delegates to the GE Conference Board focused on job security at their meeting here in the UE Local 506 union hall on April 18. Local 506 Chief Plant Steward Dave Kitchen, joined by members Rich Manno and Rick Robb, gave a detailed presentation on the local’s Job Preservation and Steering Committee (JPSC).

The job preservation committees were established under contract language first negotiated in 1997 by UE and General Electric and strengthened in last year’s national negotiations. The contract provision has helped the union advance a positive agenda on jobs. The result, as Kitchen and his co-workers explained, has been the return of some subcontracted jobs, the preservation of work and identification of new areas for potential job growth.

Local 506 has recruited members knowledgeable in various work processes in the plant and paired them up with stewards or other members with organizational know-how and resources, Kitchen said. The union made a detailed examination of the plant’s work processes, giving Local 506 the ability in many cases to counteract the tendency of some managers to subcontract work.

Manno, the union’s resource person for assembly work, explained his method of cost analysis, and related how the union had uncovered many hidden subsidies to contractors which conceal the real cost of farmed-out work. He stressed that developing a network of sources for information and membership support was key to the process. He also noted the JPSC engaged in nothing which might adversely affect members, such as job consolidation.


In stressing that JPSCs are not a "magic bullet" for job security, Kitchen contrasted this approach with the often futile attempts to "bargain" over company-announced work transfers. He also stated that in no way does the operation of the JPSCs resemble participation in GE-inspired "cooperation" schemes. All of the presenters stressed that the idea was to promote job preservation as a union process with union goals, which, in turn, depends on an aggressive and informed membership.

The multi-faceted nature of both the attack on jobs and needed response was driven home in the report by Chris Townsend, UE political action director. Noting that more than 10,000 U.S. manufacturing facilities had closed since NAFTA went into effect in 1994, Townsend called attention to the looming battle over the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) and demonstrations in opposition in Quebec (see: Protests Slam 'Free-Trade' Scheme in Quebec; Chicago Rally Blasts FTAA, Effects of NAFTA).

Delegates responded by unanimously adopting a resolution in support of the demonstrations (which took place the following weekend) and in opposition to FTAA and the "fast-track" mechanism designed to rush it through Congress without amendment.

In other business, Genl. Pres. John Hovis reported that the union had successfully prevented the adoption of rules by the Coordinated Bargaining Committee which would have undermined the autonomy of individual unions in the coordinated bargaining process. Hovis also updated delegates on the ongoing struggle to secure a first contract at the TEMCO plant in nearby North East. The company has committed massive unfair labor practices and is engaging in surface bargaining. Local 506 Bus. Agent Pat Rafferty reported that the issue of TEMCO’s conduct had been raised with GE, which is a major customer.

The meeting was hosted by Local 506 and chaired by Rafferty.

UE News - 05/01

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

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