Base wages would rise an average of about 2.5 percent per year over three years in a contract endorsed by the leaders of two of General Electric’s largest unions.
On June 19, the company reached tentative agreements on new four-year agreements with the International Union of Electronic Workers-Communications Workers of America (IUE-CWA), which represents 1,205 workers at GE Energy in Schenectady and the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America (UE), which represents 170 at GE Energy in Fort Edward. A total of 15,000 hourly employees are covered by these agreements.
The pact calls for a cash payment of $5,000 to be paid in July and general wage increases of 2.25 percent in June 2012, 2.5 percent in June 2013 and 3 percent in June 2014. Also, there are eight cost-of living adjustments that result in 12 percent pay gains when combined with the general increase, according to a press release.
In addition, the contract eliminates or reduces mandatory pension contributions for many plan participants and significantly increases the pension, especially for many long-term employees. It also offers early retirement options for up to 400 hourly and nonexempt employees and a voluntary retirement incentive payment equal to 75 percent of pay for an additional 400 employees.
Also, another major change is a new health care plan for employees. GE officials have been trying to control health care costs, which have been growing at twice the rate of inflation.
Both the IUE-CWA and UE Conference Boards endorsed the plan last week and now the decision is up to the local unions, which must ratify the agreement by June 30.
GE spokeswoman Chris Horne said that the contract is fair for the employees and the company and makes significant gains in the areas of wages, pensions and job and income security.
She is optimistic the agreement will be approved as the company and employees work together to make sure everyone is fully educated about the package.
She also noted that eight other local union sites have already ratified the contract. None have rejected it so far.
After the tentative contract was approved, Horne said GE officials are recommending to the board of directors that people receiving pensions who retired before June 2007 get a 13th check this year.
Lauren Asplen, assistant to the president of the International Union of Electronic Workers-Communications Workers of America, did not return a message left for comment.