GE Union Workers Reject New Deal
General Electric Co. workers voted against a new four-year contract, surprising the conglomerate and union leaders who had negotiated the agreement last month and likely sending them back to the bargaining table. While a majority of total votes cast were in approval of the contract, numerous local unions voted against the deal. Under the union’s rules, there was enough of a protest vote to reject the contract.
“We will be contacting GE to notify them of the results. GE’s obligation to bargain continues,” said the IUE-CWA, the biggest union that led the negotiations. The vote was thrown into confusion late Tuesday as some local unions celebrated an apparent rejection while union leaders and lawyers determined the next steps.
The contract, negotiated by a group of 11 unions covering about 6,600 workers, sought to maintain a labor peace as the struggling conglomerate restructures its operations. The union-represented workers are in various industrial divisions, including aviation, health care and power, in facilities across the country. While union leaders endorsed the deal in Cincinnati last month, members in some local groups were openly upset about the terms of the deal, including higher health-care costs. The workers contend that they have sacrificed a lot in recent years and that GE’s leadership has mismanaged the company.
The rejection is a surprise after the previous contract easily passed four years ago with 84% support. Leading up to the vote, some members campaigned against it on social media, while GE sent numerous emails and bulletins over the last two weeks highlighting the terms in a positive light.
On Monday, the IUE-CWA, the industrial division of the Communications Workers of America, posted on Facebook that members shouldn’t “listen to rumors in the shop or on social media,” noting that official information would come in leaflets or meetings. The previous agreement expired in late June but both sides agreed to extend its term while the tentative contract was ratified.