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.