For Immediate Release January 8, 2003 For more information, contact: Peter Gilmore or Stephen Tormey 412-471-8919; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
A national strike will be conducted against General Electric on Jan. 14 and 15, the United Electrical, Radio & Machine Workers of America (UE) announced today. The action is in response to the Company’s decision to impose substantially higher co-pays under its Health Care Preferred (HCP) medical plan effective January 1.
The UE strike, the first national strike action against GE since the 102-day strike of 1969-70, will involve approximately 5,000 GE workers in 16 different bargaining units in several states. The UE will be joined by the IUE/CWA, the only other union holding a national contract with GE.
The UE-GE Conference Board, comprising delegates from the union’s GE locals, unanimously called for strike action in a resolution passed at its meeting in December. The resolution stated that the co-pay increases constitute an “unprecedented mid-contract attack,’ and noted that GE’s action represents a transfer of about $30 million in annual medical costs to affected employees and pre-65 retirees by the Company. This comes at a time when GE is not only on track to report record earnings of over $15 billion in 2002, but is predicting double-digit profit increases for 2003 in 11 of its 13 major businesses.
"The Union does not expect that the two-day strike will result in withdrawal of the co-pay increases by GE," said UE President John Hovis. "Rather, the strike is intended to demonstrate the membership’s opposition to GE’s cost shifting, to exact a price from GE for its action, and to mobilize resistance to GE’s stated intention to seek additional cost shifting in contract negotiations to be held later this year." The UE-GE National Contract expires on June 15.
The Conference Board resolution concludes as follows: "We do not take this step lightly, but we are convinced that it is a necessary one, not only in response to the HCP changes, but also in the longer run to help safeguard all of our medical insurance programs that we have worked so hard to establish and improve over many years."
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