This story has been updated: www.ueunion.org/unity2003_pensionurged.html
General Electric retirees deserve "an immediate and substantial pension increase," says UE. In a March 4 letter, UE President John H. Hovis reminds company officials that "It has now been nearly three years since General Electric has seen fit to adjust the pensions of its retirees."
Since that last pension adjustment, on May 1, 2000,consumer prices have risen by nearly 6 percent and Medicare premiums have increased, Hovis points out. Retirees have also sustained substantial increases in optional GE medical plans. Participation in the GE Medicare Insurance Plan now costs $156 a month for a retiree and spouse.
As of December 1999, the average pension of 77,000 hourly retirees was only $553 a month; 12,000 surviving spouses of hourly employees were receiving an average pension of only $260 a month. While those averages have improved somewhat since then, Hovis says, "nevertheless there are still many thousands of GE retirees and spouses trying to get by on pitifully inadequate pensions."
Hovis declares, "To say the Company can afford a substantial increase for pensioners is an understatement. Despite three years of stock market declines and record low interest rates, the giant GE Pension Trust is overfunded by nearly $5 billion."
GE can and should adjust retirees’ pension benefits, Hovis maintains. "We would remind the Company that its ongoing financial success is due in large part to the contributions of thousands of retirees over many years. We believe it is high time that they receive tangible recognition for those contributions."
Hovis also urges a substantial increase to the minimum multiplier, the formula used to calculate the benefit amount.