GE Workers Threaten Strike over Health Care Costs

January 7, 2003 ( - In response to rising health care costs, 14,000 members of General Electric's (GE) International Union of Electronic, Electrical, Salaried, Machine and Furniture Workers-Communications Workers of America (IUE-CWA) union will go on strike just after midnight on Tuesday, January 14, according to a press release.

The strike, set to last until midnight January 15, is due to GE’s increase of health care co-pays for workers and pre-65 retirees in its managed care plan.   Additionally, the union said the strike is intended to serve as a deterrent to GE’s stated plan to seek “substantial” increases when national union negotiations start in May 2003.

According to the release, from 2000 to 2001, GE’s costs in its managed care plan increased by 9.7%, while workers’ co-premium costs jumped 16.0%. In a single year, GE will have shifted $43 million to $57 million in costs onto workers and retirees. At the same time, GE’s total health care costs, as a percentage of profit, were lower in 2001 than in 1999. The union said this translated into nearly 145,000 families being hit with the cost hikes January 1.

The strike will impact 48 locations in 23 states working in GE’s appliance, lighting, power systems, aircraft engine, consumer and industrial repair, industrial systems, plastics and transportation businesses.

“IUE-CWA is taking on the fight for affordable health care for all GE workers, including unrepresented workers,” said IUE-CWA President Edward Fire. “GE has provoked a strike through its greed. A company that sets record profits each year, $14.1 billion in 2001, can afford to maintain health benefits without forcing workers and retirees to pay more.”