Saturday, July 08, 2000

Electrical workers OK pact with GE

The Associated Press and The Cincinnati Enquirer

        FAIRFIELD, Conn. — Members of the International Union of Electronic Workers, the largest of 14 unions which last month reached a tentative contract agreement with General Electric Co., have voted to accept the pact.

        With all but four local unions reporting results, 83 percent of the votes cast were in favor of the three-year contract, the IUE said Friday. IUE represents 20,000 of the 40,000 workers covered by the talks.

        The United Electrical Workers of America and the Sheet Metal Workers have also voted to accept the offer, which includes improvements in pensions, job security and wages and holds the line on health-care costs.

        “We're pleased by the solid vote that the union employees provided for this contract,” GE spokesman Gary Sheffer said. “We think this is a fair contract and protects the competitiveness of our business.”

        The ratifications come as bargaining continued between GE Aircraft Engines and two unions representing about 2,000 hourly workers at the Evendale plant in suburban Cincinnati.

        GE's contracts with United Auto Workers Local 647 and Machinist Local 912 at the Evendale plant expire at midnight Sunday. GE negotiates collectively with its unions on economic issues, but local issues and contract language are discussed in separate talks.

        The agreement that was accepted Friday offers pension increases of about 15 percent over three years for current workers who retire under the new contract. It also strengthens job preservation committees intended to prevent or cushion the effects of layoffs, and doubles — to a full year — the amount of warning GE must give before closing plants.

        The offer also includes wage increases of an average of 14 percent over three years.


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