SCHENECTADY, NY – Today, hundreds of General Electric workers from four states across the country converged outside the GE factory in Schenectady, New York to demand the nearly $80 billion dollar company reinvest in its American workforce and take immediate action to protect jobs, improve pay, and cut spiraling healthcare costs. The workers, from GE plants in Lynn, Massachusetts, Arkansas City, Kansas, Madisonville, Kentucky, and Schenectady, New York also said they want guarantees that GE will continue to honor their union rights after the company splits into three new entities.
This latest mobilization is the largest multi-state action by GE workers in years, and comes as IUE-CWA, the largest union representing GE workers, prepares to head into national GE contract negotiations in Spring 2023. The negotiations come as decades of simmering worker anger over GE’s divestment from its domestic manufacturing workforce is spilling over at GE.
Workers are demanding the company stop offshoring and outsourcing jobs, and to instead invest in rebuilding its once robust domestic, unionized manufacturing base: this would fix supply chain problems slowing down domestic factories and seize on key opportunities from the Biden administration’s massive public subsidies to domestic wind energy manufacturing. Workers also want to know why GE is still spending billions on stock buybacks instead of prioritizing their opportunity to become the nation’s leader on green energy at home.
IUE-CWA National President Carl Kennebrew: “GE’s $2.5 billion breakup is taking the company in the wrong direction. GE must stop taking orders from Wall Street and start investing in the American workers who built this company in the first place. Regardless of whether GE is one company or three, we are demanding it put the industrial future of America first. GE must invest $5 billion over the next five years in American manufacturing and build offshore wind in states like New York and Massachusetts where skilled union workers are ready to power the green economy of the future.”
Jerry Carney, IUE-CWA Chair of the GE Conference Board: “As we prepare to negotiate the largest GE union contract in the country next year, we are demanding that GE deliver a fair contract that protects good union jobs, invests in our communities, and honors union protections. Across the country, GE workers are more united than ever to demand a fair contract that invests in our future and the good-paying union jobs our economy needs.”
Chris DePoalo, IUE-CWA 301 Business Agent (Schenectady, NY): “As a third-generation GE worker, I am proud that my father and grandparents helped build GE and the Electric City here in Schenectady. They fought for a better life for themselves and for future workers like us. None of what they did was easy. Everything GE workers have achieved to make these good-paying union jobs came because for generations we have stood together united. GE workers have organized, sacrificed, and walked the picket line for months in the dead of winter. For decades, GE workers have put it all on the line for people like me before I was even born. That’s why I’m here today. That’s why we’re fighting. So GE workers and their families for generations to come can count on these good-paying American union jobs that have built this company and kept our communities strong.”
Mark Coldwell, IUE-CWA Local 1004 Treasurer (Arkansas City, KS): “Year after year, our healthcare premiums go up and our coverage goes down. Our labor and our bodies make GE’s profits and we deserve good affordable healthcare, but instead, GE continues to demand more and give us less in return. When one of us has a health emergency, the last thing we should be worrying about is our hospital bill but that is what’s happening. We have workers in Kansas right now fighting the company over ambulance charges after fighting for their life. Every time they change our provider, we have to fight for the coverage that used to be provided. It’s ridiculous. It’s unacceptable. And it has to stop.”
Justin Richards, IUE-CWA Local 201 Business Agent (Lynn, MA): “Decades of worker frustration and anger is boiling over as we head into these contract talks, especially as GE’s multi-billion dollar split creates more uncertainty about the future of the company and our jobs. Year after year, GE has made billions of dollars in profits off of our labor and it’s about time we get our fair share of the pie. Too many of us work multiple jobs to make ends meet when a job at GE once meant you were set. Even when GE splits up, that doesn’t guarantee its success if the company refuses to invest in its workforce. If GE and its successors want to thrive, supporting good-paying union jobs in the US is the way to go.”
James Hamby, IUE-CWA Local 83701 President (Madisonville, KY): “GE union workers in Kentucky, New York, and many more states across the country have all seen the cost of living skyrocket with record inflation this year. Hundreds of thousands of GE retirees are living on fixed incomes as the cost of living continues to rise for us all. Inflation is burning holes in everyone’s pockets. Our labor and retirees’ labor have made billions in profits for GE. It’s unacceptable, everyone deserves retirement security. We aren’t asking for the moon, we are demanding our fair share. This is about peace of mind, not greed.”