Bargaining Update Sunday June 21, 2015

Bargaining Update Sunday June 21, 2015:

At 7:47 p.m. this evening (Sunday June 21st), the CBC unions and GE management reached a tentative contract agreement. The tentative agreement came shortly before the contract expiration deadline, and has been endorsed by all of the CBC union lead negotiators. “It was a hard fight to the end,” stated IUE-CWA President Jim Clark, “But Chairman Santamoor and I are confident that our delegates and members will be pleased with this agreement when they see the details.” The GE local delegates will travel to NYC over the next several days to review the tentative agreement with the bargaining committee and GE Conference Board staff. If the delegates vote in favor of the tentative agreement, all details will then be released to the membership and local contract votes will be scheduled. As always, final approval of the contract is based on membership approval.

Bargaining update Saturday June 20th

Bargaining update Saturday June 20th

Bargaining at the small table continued throughout the day today as Union negotiators urged management to resolve issues on wages, pensions, health care and a variety of open contract language demands.

There was some movement on wages and job security, constructive discussions on pension and health care, and some contract language issues were resolved, but a number of serious open issues remain.

The Union stressed to the company that the clock is running out and they need to work harder to resolve open issues, particularly on health care and wages, for an agreement to be reached before the deadline.

Negotiations continue throughout the weekend.

Bargaining Update Friday June 19, 2015

Bargaining Update Friday June 19, 2015:

Overview: The two bargaining subcommittees have delivered final reports to the Small table, outlining the company’s final positions on the Union demands concerning pensions, insurance, and contract language. The parties have made some progress on closing the gap on several important issues.  The small table, utilizing details received from the subcommittee tables, will now push the remaining issues with GE’s lead negotiator. Leading into Sunday’s deadline, the bargaining subcommittees will serve as support to the small table, answering questions and assisting the small table in any manner, particularly if issues arise relating to their specific work locations. The two sides will continue to meet throughout the weekend to review, edit, argue, and talk in the hopes that an agreement can be reached.   If an agreement is reached, the Bargaining Committees of the respective CBC unions will then review on Monday, to determine their recommendation for the Delegates on Tuesday.  The Delegates then vote on Wednesday on whether or not to recommend the Tentative agreement for ratification by the membership.

Small Table Negotiations:

At the small table, lengthy discussions took place today regarding wages and COLA.  Contract language proposals were also discussed at length, in particular Article XXII and job and income security. The Union and company lead negotiators also argued points on Health care & Life, Active Health Care, Retirement Savings Plan, Pension, SERO, and Disability provisions. Tentative Agreements were reached on some pension issues. Asked about the current situation, IUE-CWA President James D. Clark said, “There has been progress, but there remains a large gap between us on some major issues. Hopefully, as the clock winds down, management will work with the union to find solutions that will bridge the gap.”

Contract Language subcommittee:

Today’s subcommittee wrap-up session was brief, with both parties agreeing that the exchanges during this year’s Contract Language Subcommittee had been detailed and substantive. The Committee was ultimately unable to reach any tentative agreements at this level to recommend to the lead bargainers at the small table; however, the Committee did clarify company positions on many important issues.

Summary Pension and Insurance Sub-Committee

At today’s subcommittee wrap up, the parties signed off on several Tentative Agreements on Short Term and Long Term Disability benefits, which were sent to the Small Table for consideration in their negotiations. There was also an improvement tentatively agreed to on the Disability Pension.

The Union team also reiterated to management the importance of improvements for the defined Pension and made it clear that in its present form, significant RSP improvements were necessary to insure that these employees can achieve meaningful savings and have secure retirements. In the afternoon session, the Union team went back over every significant pension proposal that was still on the table, and each union representative in the room gave a statement on how important these negotiations are to the members back home.

Negotiations resume early Saturday morning.

Thursday June 18, 2015

Bargaining Update Thursday June 18, 2015

Today at the small table, the Company summarized their current contract language proposals on Job and Income Security, Preferential placement, Rate Guarantees, Payroll practices, Death in Family, Military Pay, Sick and personal pay, and Service Shop allowances, per diem, and premiums.

The Union presented management with specific demands on STD, LTDI, FMLA, Prescription drugs, mental health, and substance abuse, GE Health Benefits, basic life insurance. Pre-65 medical, Post- 65 medical, GE medical care plan for pensioners, Pensioners Hospital Indemnity Plan, GE Medicare Insurance Plan part B, GE Pensioners Prescription drug plan, Pension, Wages and Cola, Contract Language and Service Centers.

The company made some positive movement on the Union demands, and the parties will continue to work into the weekend in an attempt to reach a tentative agreement prior to the contract expiration on Sunday.

Pension and Insurance Subcommittee
In the morning session the Union focused on expressing concerns about the cost of health care for active and pre-65 retirees. The Union bargaining team argued strenuously for improvements in co-pays, deductibles, high contribution rates, wage brackets, working spouses, controlling drug costs and low HRA assistance amounts, providing management with many examples of inequities in coverage that have a negative impact on our members.

The Company presented several proposals concerning improvements to short term and long-term disability coverage, and the Sub-Committee met internally to discuss those proposals and send their recommendations on to the Small Table Bargaining team for consideration.

The remainder of the day was centered on discussions about how to better assist our members in getting access to all the benefits of the GE Insurance Plans. GE brought in their HR Customer Care Team for face-to-face interaction with the assembled union representatives and to hear about the ongoing problems faced by our members. The GE Team heard how it is no longer easy for the members to understand and utilize the complex benefit rules and procedures. The bargaining team stressed the importance of member education, local benefit representatives, and corporate benefit representatives, but also stressed that cost was a primary concern.

The Sub-Committee will resume meeting tomorrow at 9am.

Contact Language Subcommittee
The Company provided eight new proposals on various contract language topics for a total of thirty company sponsored proposals offered during this current bargaining period. All proposals on each side have been reviewed and argued with several counter proposals offered by each side. Tomorrow’s session will focus on attempting to determine if there is any language on those proposals that the combined Committee can agree on. If so, the principals from each side will attempt to craft a Tentative Agreement as a joint recommendation to the small table (main bargaining). The parties have a substantial chasm to navigate to reach any agreements, as most of the Company’s current proposals would require substantive givebacks. Management did withdraw their earlier position that their proposals must be considered a package deal and agreed to bargain on individual proposals.

Following the day’s bargaining, the Union Committee met to review all thirty plus Company proposals to craft counter proposals and/or responses.

Please note that the bargaining process involves numerous proposals on the same issues going back and forth across the table, the details of which change constantly and do not necessarily reflect where we will end up on any given issue. Reporting the minute details of every management proposal out of context and through social media (as has happened elsewhere) can be misleading and detrimental to the bargaining process. When and if a tentative agreement is reached, all of the details will be released so that the membership can make a clear decision about whether to vote for or against the agreement, as is their right and responsibility. Until that time, the entire IUE-CWA bargaining team, made up of officers/members from our GE locals, will continue to fight for the best interests of our membership.

Wednesday June 17, 2015

GE BARGAINING UPDATE

Bargaining Update Wednesday June 17, 2015

On Monday June 15th, one of our union brothers, Billy Hayward, passed away at our Madisonville, KY plant. Billy was only 48 years old and had been in our union since 1987. His wife and two of his brothers are also employed at our plant, and all three are long-time union members. Please join Local President Andy Blades, IUE-CWA President Clark, Chairman Santamoor and the entire IUE-CWA Bargaining team in offering his wife and family our deepest sympathies. Service Information for Billy: Barnett-Strother Funeral Home, 2285 North Main St. Madisonville, Ky. Visitation will be Thursday 4-7pm and funeral service Friday at 2pm. The link to his obituary is http://www.barnettstrother.com/m/obituaries/Billy-Hayward/Memories.

Today at the small table, morning discussions included the following topics: Health Benefits–Cost sharing provisions, deductible, coinsurance and out of pocket maximums, working spouse contributions, prescription drug co-pays for specialty drugs, and prescription drugs – Generic /targeted drug co-pays.

The afternoon session included talks on Enhancement to the Health Reimbursement Account (HRA) and Health care Flexible Account (FSA) process, ambulance services in emergency situations, SPD Language clarification – Care Away from Home, DSO – Dental Benefit Schedules, DSO/DPO- Covered Services and Dependent eligibility, Vision (VSO) coverage issues.

As is often the case at this stage of negotiations, the Union and management remain far apart on many of these issues and discussions are often heated. Work at the small table resumes tomorrow.

Contract Language Subcommittee: The subcommittee revisited the topic of plant closing language before moving on to offer counterproposals to management’s job security proposals from the day before. Management declined to bargain on the union’s individual job security counter-proposals, arguing that the eleven proposals were meant as a package. Management also offered a new set of proposals directed to the apparatus service centers and a single proposal on decision bargaining.

Pension & Healthcare Subcommittee: This morning, GE gave the subcommittee the same presentation on post-65 that the small table was given yesterday. Union-side committee members expressed their disapproval and disappointment with this proposal.

In the afternoon, the group discussed the complexities of Wage Works and the FSA/HRA plans. GE proposes to simplify Wage Works using a streamlined process, a combined reimbursement and prescription credit card and a Health Coach available 24-hours. GE claims the streamlined process will eliminate the need for an employee to fax or scan documents in order to be reimbursed, and will also eliminate problems with over-payment, members sending payment to the wrong address, and charges coming in multiple bills. The committee also discussed a management proposal for an automated HRA/FSA process.

Bargaining resumes Thursday June 18th.

Please note that the bargaining process involves numerous proposals on the same issues going back and forth across the table, the details of which change constantly and do not necessarily reflect where we will end up on any given issue. Reporting the minute details of every management proposal out of context and through social media (as has happened elsewhere) can be misleading and detrimental to the bargaining process. When and if a tentative agreement is reached, all of the details will be released so that the membership can make a clear decision about whether to vote for or against the agreement, as is their right and responsibility. Until that time, the entire IUE-CWA bargaining team, made up of officers/members from our GE locals, will continue to fight for the best interests of our membership.

 

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

-Supplements

-Employee contributions to the Personal Pension Account (PPA)

-Pension Cash-outs

-SERO/SERO 30

-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.

Bargaining Update Monday June 15, 2015

Bargaining Update Monday June 15, 2015

The small table and subcommittee meetings began this morning, with lead representatives from UE, IBEW, IAM, and UAW at the small table with Chairman Bob Santamoor, Secretary Vinnie Vines, IUE-CWA President Jim Clark, and the GE lead negotiators.  The small table discussions centered primarily on structural issues like how the subcommittee recommendations will be handled at the small table.

The remainder of the IUE-CWA bargaining team members attended subcommittee sessions to set demand priorities for tomorrow’s bargaining sessions on pension and medical and non-economic contract language demands.

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.

Bargaining Update Friday June 12, 2015

Bargaining Update Friday June 12, 2015

President Clark returned to the table today from the CWA Convention. Conference Chairman Bob Santamoor and the bargaining committee congratulated him on his re-election as President of IUE-CWA and Vice President of CWA.

Today was the final day of large table discussions

GE’s lead negotiator John Gritti thanked the bargaining committee for their professionalism, their good ideas, and their dedication.   He also thanked his GE team for their work at the large table, and invited them each to speak briefly.

The main GE management team members all spoke briefly, expressing respect for the bargaining committee and willingness to work together in the subcommittee meetings to bridge the gap and get a contract.   Management reiterated their position that the GE job package is one of the best in the U.S., and stated that, “The road to success over the next ten days is to continue to partner for solutions. We have always found a way to respect each others opinion and find solutions, and that has made us strong.”

Chairman Santamoor Bob thanked the GE Bargaining team for their professionalism at the main table, and for asking good questions to clarify the union positions.

President Clark also spoke briefly, and reminded GE that IUE-CWA made hard choices in 2011, which were not easy.

“What we did in the past two contracts will already result in a continuing decline in liability for pension and post-retirement healthcare for GE,” Clark stated. “The Union did those things for job security and the future of our U.S. facilities. What we agreed to has to be given time. I understand stockholder equity is important and Wall Street judges the corporation by that, but shifting costs to our members is not the answer here.”

President Clark also told GE, “Healthcare has to be fixed before we leave here. We have to fix this health care so that our members, your workers, feel secure enough to focus on their jobs and not healthcare.”

Every member of the IUE-CWA and CBC Bargaining teams spoke briefly to GE management, giving the perspective of the memberships of their Unions and locals on what the most essential issues are for these negotiations.

Many of those comments centered on health care cost increases for our members, the complexity of the current health care system, and the hardships both of those have created for our members. Others spoke about the degree to which GE will lose good employees if they continue to follow industry trends to cut benefits. Many spoke eloquently on behalf of the current retirees who built GE and the unfairness of attacking benefits they earned over many years of labor, and passionately on behalf of the second tier employees who are the future of GE and the need to build loyalty between them and the company to make a decision for a lifetime career with GE.

The committee expressed optimism that an agreement can be reached, but only if GE will make tough decisions and take steps forward to bridge the gap.

Following the main table adjournment, the Union bargaining team members met internally and were assigned by Chairman Santamoor to the different subcommittees. They will prep throughout the weekend for their respective subcommittee bargaining meetings next week.

Thursday June 11, 2015

GE BARGAINING UPDATE

GE Bargaining Update: Thursday June 11, 2015

Along with Conference Board Chairman Bob Santamoor, his staff, and IUE-CWA Bargaining Committee members Brian Sullivan, Jake Aguinaga, Joe Noojin, Ric Casilli, Lance Bergman, Dana Crittendon, Bill Collins, Andy Blades, Rick Madal, and Eric Dejohn, there were three guests on the Union side of the main table this morning. Local 788 President Troy Mallory, Local 120 Vice President Irv Plummer, and Local 120 Recording Secretary Dan Hanratty joined the bargaining committee for today’s scheduled discussions of the IUE-CWA/CBC Service Center Proposals. In solidarity with the membership, the Bargaining team came to the table today wearing red CBC-GE Workers United t-shirts.

GE began the morning with a presentation on Layoff and Severance benefits for hourly employees, arguing that they had compared GE layoff and severance benefits to those of other large manufacturing companies and found that the GE package stood out above the others. Conference Board Chairman Bob Santamoor expressed concerns with the manner in which the company administers the preferential hiring program, noting situations in which long-time employees have suffered tremendous pay cuts, and warned that GE risks losing good employees with extremely valuable skills. Santamoor and the bargaining committee reiterated that there are improvements that need to be made to the layoff and severance benefits, but that the Union’s main emphasis is on preventing job loss. The union argued that we need strong contractual job security language and not just income security language. “We don’t want to leave NYC with out enhanced language to prevent plant closings,” Santamoor stated. “We have bolstered layoff language over the years – now we need to find a way to stop plant closings.”

The IUE-CWA/CBC Bargaining committee presented a list of Service Center proposals to GE. IUE-CWA represents eleven service shops around the country, and the committee noted that we have illustrated our desire to work with the company to protect the jobs we have and the people we represent. The Union proposal topics included travel and layover pay and allowances, tool and shoe allowances, subcontracting, transfer of work, upgrades, time off, the process by which openings are filled, and oversea travel and safety, among others.

GE asked clarifying questions and did not respond to the proposals at this time.

The IUE-CWA/CBC team again expressed the union’s unhappiness with the current health care program, and furnished management with more examples of situations where employees had large out of pocket costs. In one case, a member had to scramble to pay high deductible and out of pocket costs before a family member could get a medically necessary surgery. Many members of the bargaining committee spoke on how difficult Wage Works is to navigate and how the large deductible hurts our members.

In the afternoon session, Jason Larson from GE presented a business overview of the GE Service Operations; 4% of the total CBC Union employees work in service, doing installations of new equipment, and inspections, maintenance, repairs, and upgrades of existing equipment. IUE-CWA and CBC represented technicians travel to customer sites around the world and also do service within GE shops. They work in the Power and Water, Aviation, energy management and Transportation segments. Larson noted that service has a highly skilled workforce, and emphasized that service shops are at the core of GE serving customers. He also noted an “increasingly competitive landscape” in service.

IAM’s Tom O’Heron introduced Neil Gladstein, IAM Director of Strategic Resources, who gave management a presentation on the value of the defined benefit pension plan (GE Pension Plan) vs. the defined contribution plan (Retirement Savings Plan or RSP). Gladstein reported that the RSP lacks the protections of the GE Pension plan, and he listed other benefits of the GE Pension Plan, including diversification, lower fees, professional money managers, and guarantees by the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation. (PBGC)

Gladstein closed with a comparative example of an employee making $60,000 a year retiring after thirty years under the GE Pension Plan and the same employee retiring under the Retirement Savings Plan. He determined that under the current RSP, the employee in question would have significantly less retirement benefit than under the GE Pension Plan. He noted that GE either needs to up their contribution to the RSP or return everyone to a defined benefit plan. GE countered with what they consider the “pros” of the RSP, including its portability if employees leave GE and go to work for other companies. GE also stated that most companies are running from defined pension plans for many reasons, including government reporting rules, and that the trend was not likely to reverse. GE repeated their earlier assertion that the RSP plan is more generous than many other companies’ plans and that if employees save consistently, they can do well.

IUE-CWA/CBC Bargaining committee members spoke in support of Gladstein’s presentation, noting concerns about stock market volatility, the difficulty of saving for retirement under a competitive wage, and GE’s savings under the RSP.

Negotiations will resume tomorrow, Friday June 12th.

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.

WEDNESDAY JUNE 10, 2015

GE BARGAINING UPDATE

WEDNESDAY JUNE 10, 2015

The morning bargaining session began with GE Management informational presentations on the Aviation and Lighting Businesses. Colleen Athans, Vice President of the GE Aviation Global Supply Chain, gave an overview of the GE Aviation Business, which currently generates 14% of GE’s revenue–and is growing. She reported that GE Aviation has eighty plants in nineteen countries with 30,000 employees, compared to fifteen plants and 9,300 employees in 2004. Athans also reported that the commercial business is healthy, but the military business is currently shrinking due primarily to a decline in government orders. She further noted that New Product Introduction (NPI) is exploding as old engine lines are replaced by new engine development and production. Finally, Athans gave brief reports on the four union CBC Aviations sites in the supply chain: Lynn, Ma., Madisonville, Ky and Arkansas City, Ks (IUE-CWA production sites), and Evendale (UAW/IAM production/maintenance sites).

Joe Cenin, the General Manager of the GE Lighting supply chain, also spoke about the extreme competition within the lighting business and the degree of change occurring in the market place. IUE-CWA lighting plants are in Bridgeville Pa., Somerset, Ky., Bucyrus, Dover, and Cleveland, Ohio, and there are several other CBC represented locations as well. According to Cenin’s report, operating profits for GE lighting increased from $143 million in 2014 to $155 million in 2015. Cenin also reported that GE is changing from its traditional incandescent light bulb market and investing into new technologies and products – including LED’S, fixtures, software, and controls. He thanked the unions for recognizing the market/competition in the lighting division and for making “tough choices” that allowed GE to remain in lighting in a very competitive market.

Bargaining representatives from UE and GE management from the UE main table joined the IUE/CBC main table for the afternoon session to hear a GE Transportation Business Review. Richard Simpson, VP of the Transportation Global Supply Train, gave a lengthy report on the business, which took in $5.7 Billion in revenue in 2014. Simpson spoke about marketplace conditions and increasing competition, and about the largest sector of their “big cycle” business (locomotives) and the UE Erie Plant. He showed charts on investment, productivity, and employment at the different plants, including their relatively new non-union Texas plant, and he forecasted that global competition would grow. Following his report, the UE returned to their bargaining table.

At the IUE-CWA main table, IUE-CWA and CBC Bargaining committee members questioned GE at length about the current GE Health care Plan. The bargaining committee communicated strongly and repeatedly to management how dissatisfied the membership is with many aspects of the plan, including the contribution rates, the high deductibles, co-pays and out of pocket maximums. The Bargaining committee also argued that Wage Works is effectively broken and that the entire process is far too complex to be useful. The issue of members, particularly in rural areas, having to drive thirty or more miles to get a prescription filled at an in-network pharmacy was raised, as were the structural inequalities of the plan and the inequality and inconsistency of how contribution rates are set on pre-65 retirees in comparison to other employees.

GE management noted that they would not begin responding to specific demands of the large table bargaining committee until the two sub-committees (Pension/Insurance and Contract Language ) and the small table bargaining committee began their sessions next Monday. Currently, they will only discuss our proposals, ask questions, and make comments.

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