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GE, unions reach four-year contract agreement

GE, unions reach four-year contract agreement

Few details released before ratification vote, expected in next week
GE, unions reach four-year contract agreement
The main gate at the Schenectady General Electric plant is shown.
Photographer: Marc Schultz / Gazette Photographer

BOSTON — General Electric has reached a tentative agreement with the unions representing its hourly workers.

Specific details of the four-year deal are not being revealed publicly until after a ratification vote by union members, which is expected to take place by July 3. 

GE said Tuesday it “provides improvements in wages, health care, retirement income benefits, and job and income security.” The IUE-CWA, which represents the largest number of unionized GE workers, said the deal “includes several general wage increases spread over four years and controls employee healthcare costs.”

In its year-end disclosure form, GE said it employed 283,000 people worldwide, 97,000 of them in the United States. It said 9,900 of the U.S. workers were unionized. The agreements reached Monday by GE and the Collective Bargaining Committee would cover 6,600 U.S. workers in 11 unions. 

Along with the IUE-CWA, these unions include the IAM, UAW, IBEW, and IFPTE. Main unionized plants include Lynn, Massachusetts, Evendale, Ohio, Madisonville, Kentucky and Strother, Kansas, for GE Aviation; Schenectady for GE Power; Bucyrus, Ohio, for GE Lighting; and Milwaukee and Waukesha, Wisconsin, for GE Healthcare.

IUE-CWA Local 301 represents GE workers in Schenectady. It held a raucous rally April 22 outside the main gate of the plant as the contract negotiations neared, telling workers it needed to push back against GE chipping away at their compensation. It predicted income and job security would be the main issues in the contract talks, along with affordable health care.

Local 301 did not return requests for comment for this story Tuesday.

GE released a written statement Tuesday:

“We have achieved our goal of creating a fair deal that provides good wages and meaningful benefits for our employees while addressing the unique challenge we face today to return GE to a position of strength,” said Paul Lalli, head of labor negotiations for GE. “The new contract is endorsed by IUE-CWA leadership and creates a path forward for both employees and the company to succeed in today’s increasingly competitive world.” 

GE has been on a cost-cutting campaign as it tries to increase profitability, nowhere more urgently than at GE Power, formerly headquartered in Schenectady, where it has eliminated hundreds of jobs. 

The company is unwilling to provide individual workforce numbers for its Capital Region facilities — in Niskayuna, North Greenbush and Schenectady — but said their combined workforce is more than 4,000.

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