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