March 18, 2011
Manager - Global Union Relations
General Electric Company
3135 Easton Turnpike
Fairfield, CT 06411
Dear Mr. DeSantis:
It has now been over three years since General Electric has adjusted the pensions of its retirees. Since the last increase on December 1, 2007, consumer prices have increased by over 5%. Moreover, the price increases for such necessities as food, gasoline, home heating fuel, and medical care have increased by amounts substantially above that. Participation in Medicare Part B and the GE Medicare Insurance Plan (GEMIP) which supplements Part B for example, now comes to almost $400 per month for GE retirees and spouses.
In addition, employees who retired after June 1, 2003 have received no structural increase of any kind in over seven years. Accordingly, this group of retirees has lost up to 21% of purchasing power since retirement.
Four years ago, during the last set of National Contract negotiations, based on company data as of the end of 2006, we showed that the median pension for 81,000 hourly retirees was $625 per month, and the median pension of 14,000 surviving spouses was $300 per month. Those figures have doubtlessly improved since then. Nevertheless there are still many thousands of GE retirees and spouses trying to survive on extremely meager and inadequate pensions.
GE can well afford an overdue increase for its pensioners. Despite currently being slightly underfunded because of record low interest rates, the Pension Trust remains in excellent health, with double digit returns on investments over the last two years, since the market crash of 2008. We would further note that 2011 is 24th consecutive year that GE will make no cash contribution to the pension fund.
We would remind the Company that its ongoing financial success and bright future is due in no small measure to the efforts of many thousands of retirees over many years. We believe they deserve tangible recognition for their contributions to GE.
We call on the Company to grant to its retirees and spouses an immediate and substantial structural pension increase.
Very truly yours,
John H. Hovis
United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America (UE)
Prices for food, medical care and fuel have gone sharply higher since the last Retiree's pension increase — and GE can certainly afford it!
UE General President John Hovis has called for “an immediate and substantial structural pension increase” for GE retirees and surviving spoises.
In a March 18 letter to GE’s head of Union Relations Michael DeSantis, Hovis noted that over four years has elapsed since the last increase to pensioners’ during which time pensioners have endured sharp increases in for food, fuel, and medical care.
'GE Can Well
Afford an Increase'
Hovis further noted those pensioners who retired after June 1, 2003 have received no structural increases of any kind in over seven years, while consumer prices have increased by 21% since then.
Noting that the GE pension fund remains in “excellent health”, and that GE will make no cash contribution to the pension fund for the 24th consecutive year, Hovis stated that GE can “well afford” the increase, while noting that GE retirees “deserve tangible recognition” for what they have done for the Company.