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GE and union reach new tentative labor deal; Vote to be Aug. 13

GE and union reach new tentative labor deal; Vote to be Aug. 13

Better wage package for workers, GE and union leaders say
GE and union reach new tentative labor deal; Vote to be Aug. 13
The Schenectady General Electric main gate is pictured.
Photographer: Marc Schultz

SCHENECTADY -- General Electric and the IUE-CWA negotiating committee have reached a revised four-year labor agreement in the wake of last month's rejection by union members of an earlier deal.

GE on Tuesday said that after discussions with the union, a tentative agreement has been reached on a revised labor agreement, which the company said addresses certain issues raised by the IUE-CWA membership. "GE is always willing to listen to our employees, we heard them, and we made changes to the proposal that are in line with our business realities," the company said in a released statement.

A nationwide union vote will take place on Tuesday, Aug. 13. If approved, the agreement would cover June 2019 through June 2023.

IUE-CWA Local 301 Business Agent Rob Macherone, who was part of the union negotiating team for both contracts, said the team is recommending approval.

"We were able to enhance the wage package with more general wage increases including cost of living adjustments and were able to lower our members' health care contributions," Marcherone said in an email. "Myself along with the entire IUE-CWA GE Conference Board Negotiating Committee unanimously recommend this package for approval to our membership. This package provides wage increases that increase our members' bottom line which will outpace their healthcare costs and information."

According to GE, changes negotiated in the revised agreement include a total cash compensation increase of $14,000 over four years, versus $12,000 previously; $2.80 per hour total wage growth, versus $1.80 previously, and a 4.9% employee healthcare premium contribution in years two through four, versus 5.9% previously.

"GE is pleased by the IUE-CWA's support, as the new tentative agreement includes requested adjustments to an already highly competitive wage and benefits package that is indisputably among the very best in the industry," GE's statement said. "We are glad that we were able to work through our differences over the package structure."

In a July 9 vote, the IUE-CWA members in Schenectady and Lynn, Mass., both rejected the previous four-year offer, which under union rules was sufficient for the entire nationwide deal to be defeated. The previous contract expired June 23, but both sides announced the next day that they had a tentative deal, subject to member ratification.

GE's Power business, which makes steam turbines and generators and dominates work at GE's sprawling Schenectady complex, has been among those hardest-hit by changing market conditions.

GE has about 4,000 employees in the Capital Region, including at the downtown manufacturing complex and at its Global Research headquarters in Niskayuna, where some union members work. At one time, though, the company employed 10 times that number in the city, where it was founded in 1892.

Reach Gazette reporter Stephen Williams at 518-395-3086, [email protected] or @gazettesteve on Twitter.

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