UE Locals Focus On
GEs Insurance Vision
Representatives of UE-GE Locals
Expect General Electric to ask employees to pay even more for health
care when national negotiations take place in 2000. That is the warning received by UE
local leaders from GE plants who met here May 29 for a meeting of the UE-GE Conference
GE workers can expect the companys "continuing assault on our
benefits" to be a disruptive factor in the next round of negotiations, predicted
Stephen Tormey, Conference Board secretary.
GE's 'VISION' ...
In last years national negotiations, GE presented a "future
vision" involving a choice of company-sanctioned health plans, Tormey reminded the
UE-GE officers and stewards. GE will determine which is the "best performing plan in
the local market," with employees expected to pay any difference in cost between it
and any other medical plans.
GE has already driven a majority of UE-represented employees out of the
traditional Comprehensive Medical Benefits plan and into the GE Health Care Preferred
(HCP), he said. HCP developed as an "option" outside of collective bargaining;
this means that a majority of workers are now in a plan not fully negotiated by the union,
GE is probably correct in its assertions that the late 1990s will see a
resumption of medical cost inflation, said Tormey. This is fueled in large part by the
trend towards mergers and acquisitions by large for-profit health care corporations
acting on business principles GE understands very well.
... "YOU PAY MORE"
"GEs solution for inflation is the same as its always
been: you pay more," said Tormey. In fact, GE continued to demand that workers pay an
even greater share of health insurance costs even as its aggregate insurance costs
declined, as they have throughout the 1990s, he said.
With fewer major industrial corporations providing health benefits to
pensioners, GE retirees health benefits may also be at risk, the Conference Board
The real solution, Tormey said, would be a single-payer health insurance
system as advocated by UE and the Labor Party.
In the meantime delegates agreed on the need to prepare early to resist
another round of cost shifting by GE.
Conference Board delegates also received a warning about Social Security
and not that the system is on the verge of bankruptcy.
Instead, UE Research Dir. David Alexander revealed that Wall Street
speculators and right-wing politicians are using false claims and erroneous assumptions to
discredit the nations most popular government program in a plan to privatize the
THE UE-GE DIFFERENCE
Leading local reports was the news that settlement of a grievance gives
some Local 1010 members a total cash settlement of nearly
quarter of a million dollars.
Local 332 members recently walked out of the Fort Edward, N.Y. capacitor
plant to protest the companys expansion of subcontracting. Safety was also a factor,
reported Local Pres. Joyce Sumner. Subcontractors who moved the plants computer room
failed to lock down and tag out properly, leaving themselves and workers exposed to live
wires. "They were not as knowledgeable as our own folks," she said.
Phil Pizzi and Chris Barrickman of Local 731, Conneaut, Ohio reported on
the settlement of a grievance which will guarantee consideration of lateral moves for
future job openings.
Reports from several locations indicated that the company is pushing a new
policy against workplace violence; delegates agreed that the policy could be used as
another excuse to unfairly get rid of workers.
Genl. Pres. John Hovis reported on ongoing efforts to improve the
effectiveness of the Coordinated Bargaining Committee of GE Unions, including steps to
increase involvement by local leaders throughout the multi-union coalition. The union
leader noted that while there is still much to be done, the CBC is on record as trying to
improve and expand its efforts in the areas of organizing, education, communication and