GE Announces Offer in Hopes of Acceptance
NEW YORK (AP) _ General Electric Co. has released the terms of a tentative contract agreement in the hope that it will quell rumblings of possible rejection when workers vote on it July 6.
″We believe that once union members understand the contract and its improvements, they will ratify it,″ GE spokesman Jack Batty said Wednesday.
Tentative agreement on a three-year pact was reached Sunday night after five weeks of talks. On Tuesday, union delegates from locals across the country unanimously called for the 47,000 workers to reject it.
Approval had been recommended by the unions’ bargaining committee and the international officers of the largest union, the International Union of Electronic, Electrical, Salaried, Machine and Furniture Workers (IUE).
As presented by GE, the contract calls for:
-An immediate wage increase of 2.5 percent and 1.5 percent increases in June 1989 and June 1990; also, lump sum payments of $165 in July and $900 in June 1989.
-Five cost-of-living adjustments over the term of the contract at the current formula of 1 cent an hour for each 0.15 percent rise in the Consumer Price Index.
-Improved retirement options and bonuses, especially for workers affected by plant closings, product-line discontinuation, automation and layoffs.
-Increased retraining assistance from $3,000 over two years to $5,000 over three years.
-Waiving of the employee’s contribution to the retirement plan for the first $25,000 in annual income, up from $14,000; and increased pension payouts.
″Obviously we did not get everything we went after. You never do,″ IUE President William Bywater said. ″But the agreement is solid and it will leave union members and their families better off both in the short and the long run.″
The IUE represents about 40,000 workers in 75 locals at about 100 factories around the country.
The pact negotiated by the IUE forms the basis for GE’s other national contract with the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America (UE), which covers 6,300 employees, and with 10 other unions that represent another 21,000 workers.
Batty noted that the local delegates who recommended rejection did not attend any bargaining sessions and may not have had time to fully understand the pact.
But IUE spokesman Jerry Borstel said, ″They just felt it fell short of what they ought to get.″
″If they don’t ratify, it might mean a strike,″ Borstel said. ″I don’t know. The union is free to strike at 12:01 a.m. Saturday. We have given them the 10-day notice as required by the contract.″