General Electric Union May Launch Nationwide Strike Over Health Plan Cost Increases
Representatives of the International Union of Electronic Workers-Communications Workers of America/GE Conference Board have voted unanimously to authorize a national strike if General Electric raises health care costs for workers and retirees, the Wall Street Journal reports. GE is "likely" to increase health insurance co-payments for employees and certain retirees in its managed care plan beginning Jan. 1, 2003. Under its national contract, the union has the right to strike in response to the increases. It would mark the company's first national strike since 1969 and would affect 15,000 workers, about 5% of GE's workforce. IUE-CWA President Edward Fire said, "With 2002 profits approaching a record $16 billion, GE can easily afford to maintain health care at its current levels. We have asked GE to cancel the increases." He added, "We are prepared to discuss all the issues -- including health care costs -- in national negotiations next May. But if GE provokes a strike, we will respond." GE spokesperson Gary Sheffer said, "We believe what we have done is fair and grounded in the realities of the health care marketplace and we hope ultimately that they'll make a different decision" (Wall Street Journal, 10/28).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.