It’s Back to the Drawing Board for GE and Union Leaders

GE’s union workers rejected a tentative contract over wages and health benefits.

By Alan Wolf, YSN

Union workers rejected a tentative contract with GE Appliances last week that had been endorsed by the leadership of IUE-CWA Local 83761 for addressing wages, work practices and work-life balance issues.

But according to a report in the local Louisville Courier Journal, the manufacturer’s 3,800 unionized hourly employees roundly voted down the proposal over dissatisfaction with the wage agreement and uncertainty over future benefit costs.

The four-year agreement had included an increase in entry-level pay from $14 to $15.50 an hour plus a freeze on employee contributions to health insurance for two years, the newspaper said. But workers were reportedly concerned by the unspecified cost of insurance co-pays and the inconsistency of the hourly wage increases, which varied by length of service.

“Wages and benefits seem to be the predominant issues,” union president Dean Driskell said after tallying the ballots last week. In a statement, GE spokesperson Julie Wood expressed disappointment in the vote, noting that the proposal “offered wage gains with no increase in payroll contributions for healthcare.” She added that “The appliance industry is extremely competitive, and a fair agreement that provides stability and security for our employees while addressing the challenges we face as a company is essential for the success of employees and our business.”

Both Driskell and Wood pointed to the uncertainty and volatility of the pandemic as an added challenge to the negotiations, but union leaders and GE’s bargaining team have reportedly agreed to work quickly to reach a new accord that satisfies all parties.

Both sides are expected to meet as early as this week, the Journal said.

Hat tip to the Louisville Courier Journal.