The General Electric Co. and its two largest unions, IUE-CWA and the United Electrical Workers of America (UE), announced on June 20 details of proposed four-year labor agreements that will be voted on by union members by June 28.
Under the agreement, there will a 16% wage increase over the next four years. Health benefits will increase with added coverage for routine physicals, screenings and vaccinations.
Pensions are strengthened as "many long service hourly employees can earn pension benefit gains of more than 30% from the effect of wage and pension improvements combined with additional years of service over the contract period.
And there are improvement in jobs and income security as Special Early Retirement Option (SERO), SERO 30 and Plant Closing Pension Option are renewed with pension improvements and higher supplements. These benefit provide retirement opportunities to long-service employees in cases of permanent job loss events. Retiree pensions will increase as well.
"Despite today's manufacturing environment, we have won significant gains for our members, especially in the areas of pension and vacations. Plus, we have held the line against massive health care cost shifting," said IUE-CWA President Jim Clark.
IUE-CWA Conference board chairman Bob Santamoor said, "This is a historic agreement that improves our members' wages and benefits. I applaud their solidarity in fighting for a fair contract, which is what we have achieved."
"GE is committed to providing good wages and benefits to our employees while maintaining our ability to compete in tough global markets. These agreements provide significant improvements in pensions, deliver strong increases in wages and maintain and improve our healthcare and job security benefits. These agreements are good for employees and good for GE," said Bill Conaty, head of human resources for GE.
Eleven unions representing 20,660 GE employees in the U.S. are covered by these agreements. These unions are members of the Coordinated Bargaining Committee (CBC) of GE Unions. National negotiations are conducted with the IUE-CWA and the UE, and local contracts are negotiated with other CBC unions.