Unions, GE Announce Labor Contract Details

Vacation time increased, pensions strengthened, and employee health care costs to rise on ‘reasonable’ basis.

NEW YORK – GE and its two largest unions on Wednesday announced details of proposed four-year labor agreements to be voted on by union members by June 28.

“Despite today’s manufacturing environment, we have won significant gains for our members, especially in the areas of pension and vacations,” said IUE-CWA President Jim Clark. “Plus, we have held the line against massive health care cost shifting.”

“GE is committed to providing good wages and benefits to our employees while maintaining our ability to compete in tough global markets. These agreements provide significant improvements in pensions, deliver strong increases in wages and maintain and improve our healthcare and job security. These agreements are good for employees and good for GE,” said GE Senior Vice President for Human Resources Bill Conaty.

The proposed agreements include the following changes:
• Four general wage increases and eight cost-of-living adjustments that will raise the pay of the average hourly employee 16 percent over four years. General pay rates will advance 3 percent in June 2007, 2.5 percent in June 2008 and June 2009 and 3 percent in June 2010.
• Increases pay for night shift differentials for recently hired employees.
• Added health care coverage for preventive care such as routine physicals, screenings and vaccinations. Also, expanded coverage for clinical trials for serious illnesses.
• Reasonably increases employee contributions for health care in 2008 and 2010
• Raises the lifetime maximum benefit per person 20 percent to $3 million.
• Improves the two basic formulas used to determine the pension benefits for current employees.
• Eliminates or reduces mandatory pension contributions for many union-represented employees, adding up to $300 in take-home pay in 2008.
• Renews the Special Early Retirement Option (SERO), SERO 30 and Plant Closing Pension Option with all pension improvements and higher supplements, providing retirement opportunities to long-service employees in cases of permanent job loss events.
• Provides two early retirement “windows” for active hourly and non-exempt employees 55 to 59 with 30 years of service – 500 in 2007 and 400 in 2009.
• Adds Veterans Day as a new holiday for all U.S. employees beginning in 2007 to further honor veterans within GE and across the country.
• Provides hourly employees hired since Jan. 1, 2006, with an additional week of vacation in 2007.

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