Bargaining Update Tuesday June 16, 2015

Bargaining Update Tuesday June 16, 2015

At the Small Table meeting, the Company rolled out their initial proposal on Post-65 medical insurance, giving examples from various locations that illustrate the impact of their proposal on a cross section of our represented population.  The Company gave the negotiating committee four different coverage examples that would be available to our post-65 retirees and compared each of them to the current GE plan.

In the afternoon session, the Company rolled out specific proposals on the following:

-Retirement Savings Plan (RSP): automatic enrollment

-Proposals on guaranteed pension

-Regular pension update


-Employee contributions to the Personal Pension Account (PPA)

-Pension Cash-outs


-Plant closing pension option

-Special Supplement Benefit Option (SSBO)

As is often the case on day one of the small table, all of management’s initial proposals were unacceptable to the Union and would be equally unacceptable to the membership. The Union’s expectation is that better, more reasonable, and more acceptable proposals must be made by the Company in order to get a satisfactory contract out of New York City.

In the Contact Language Subcommittee Session, the Unions’ initial comments detailed the importance of protecting jobs while also expressing the hope that management would be an honest participant in helping reach language adjustments addressing the concerns of the Union. Management’s initial comments were long, despite a promise of brevity, as they summarized their desire to make agreements in the interest of both their internal and external customers. (They identified the internal customers as the employees and the external customers as the consumers for whom they provided products and services.) They also identified the need to remain competitive in the market place as a primary motivator in the language they hoped to secure through negotiations.

Following the openings, the company bargainers began with questions on the Union subcontracting demands. The Union gave many examples of the problems resulting from subcontracted work, including instances where union workers needed to repair or re-do the work of contractors and where cost of subcontracting the work was higher. The Union also noted that if management would give the Union(s) early notice, that could resolve much of the need for subcontracting. Detailed discussions of costing followed and the Union provided detail, with story after story, depicting the economic short sightedness of a company model unnecessarily relying on subcontracting. Management was unable to provide the Union with positive examples of subcontracting. Nor was Management responsive to the Union’s request for any and all examples where non-economic issues gave rise to the need of outside contractors. The Union reiterated the need for better communication and earlier notice when the purported need for subcontracting arises to allow the Union to rebut that need with better quality work and cost savings to the company, which better serves everyone.

The Union also began to outline how management has regularly engaged in “decision bargaining” with its decision already made — looking simply to run the sixty (60) day clock out without any intention of allowing the Union to match or beat the savings claimed by management. The Union demands more time and honest decision bargaining without insincere and shifting economic demands from management.

The Pension and Insurance Sub-Committee also met with the Company to review the status of our demands. The morning discussions concerned pension issues. While addressing all outstanding retirement proposals, the members of the Sub-Committee emphasized the big ticket items, such as updating the pension formula, increasing supplements, SERO and VIRP windows in conjunction with replacement workers, pension protection adders and look-back adders. The discussion was focused and the members provided many examples of the need for all demanded improvements.

In the afternoon the parties took up Health Care. The need to contain costs was emphasized while making the benefits more accessible and user friendly along with improving the network coverage. The afternoon session included lively exchanges from the union delegates stressing many specific examples of the dysfunction of the current system for our members. Steve Kuring, GE Co-Chair for GE on this Sub-Committee closed the session by observing that the depth of the Union discussion today was very helpful in clarifying some of the early presentation by the Unions and helps GE understand how to evaluate priorities of the Unions’ demands. They promised to communicate the day’s concerns, examples and priorities to the GE negotiators at the Small Table. They also committed to return tomorrow with presentations responsive to our issues on disability when the Sub-Committee resumes tomorrow at 9am.

PLEASE NOTE: Bargaining updates will provide members with a general overview of the daily negotiations. All contract negotiations occur “at the table” with designees that management assigns, and with representatives that union members elected/appointed. Historically, bargaining does not happen externally—on websites, within social media, or with local supervisors/management. Our bargaining priorities have been methodically prepared with member surveys and elected officers, and are presented “in-person” at the daily negotiations. The bargaining process starts out slowly, and increases as the negotiations near the June 21, 2015 contract expiration date. Members are encouraged to remain connected to official union communications, and continue to display solidarity and unity in support of our CBC bargaining team.