March 4, 2003
Dennis Rocheleau, Manager
General Electric Company
3135 Easton Turnpike
Fairfield, CT 06431
Dear Mr. Rocheleau:
It has now been nearly three years since General Electric has seen fit to adjust the pensions of its
retirees. Since the last increase on May 1, 2000, consumer prices have risen by nearly 6%. Retirees have also endured
increases in Medicare premiums since that time, as well as substantial increases in optional GE medical plans.
Participation in the GE Medicare Insurance Plan for example, now costs $156 per month for a retiree and spouse.
In addition, employees who retired after June 1, 1997 have received no pension increase of any kind.
Accordingly this group has lost up to 13% in purchasing power since retirement. Moreover the last increase did not
affect the minimum pension multiplier applicable to retirees, which remains at mere $18.00 per month times years of
Three years ago, during the last set of National Contract negotiations, based on company data as of
the end of 1999, we showed that the average pension of 77,000 hourly retirees averaged only $553.00 per month, and that
12,000 surviving spouses of hourly employees were receiving an average pension of only $260.00 per month. These averages
have no doubt improved somewhat since then. Nevertheless there are still many thousands of GE retirees and spouses
trying to get by on pitifully inadequate pensions.
To say that the Company can afford a substantial increase for pensioners is an understatement. Despite
three years of stock market declines and record low interest rates, the giant GE Pension Trust is overfunded by nearly
$5 billion. As you know, GE has not contributed a penny to the fund since 1987.
It has also been reported that the fund contributed another billion dollars or so in pension
"earnings" last year which was added to GEs profit figures.
We would remind the Company that its ongoing financial success is due in large part to the
contributions of thousands of retirees over many years. We believe it is high time that they receive tangible
recognition for those contributions.
We call on the Company to grant to its retirees an immediate and substantial pension increase and to
increase substantially the minimum multiplier as well.
Very truly yours,
John H. Hovis
UE General President