Monday, February 06, 2006

Auburn WAGE Bulletin, Feb 6, 2006

Working @ GE by the Auburn WAGE Committee, IUE-CWA, Feb 6, 2006

Mandatory overtime at GE Auburn: "Not a good thing!"
By Ray Dargie, A60 Utility, second shift, Auburn WAGE Committee

Federal and state laws do not place limits on the number of hours an adult employee over 16 years old can be required to work. However, limitations on compulsory overtime are often established by collective bargaining agreements reached between management and labor.

Since management at GE Auburn is not bound by any union contract, it has the right to impose mandatory overtime. For most of us, mandatory overtime has been kept to a minimum - and that's a good thing!

For those individuals directly impacted by mandatory overtime, the benefit of a fatter paycheck is often overshadowed by statements from management like, "If you don't work, I'll have to write you up."

Threats like that, or similar ones, serve no purpose other than to create animosity between labor and management - and that's a bad thing!

Forcing people to work overtime under any circumstances does much more harm than good. Compulsory overtime attacks the very core of what makes GE Auburn a good place to work. It lowers morale and produces an air of negativity throughout the plant. In the end, quality, quantity, and customer service suffer - and that's a bad thing!

Mandatory overtime hurts the local economy because it lets GE get away with not creating the good full-time jobs that our community needs. And by taking people away from their family and civic responsibilities, it also hurts the community - and that's another bad thing!

Mandatory overtime speaks volumes about how a company manages its business. GE Auburn is capable of doing better. Compulsory overtime (even when imposed legally) is a black eye for the company - a black eye we don't need!

While mandatory overtime has never been imposed on me, I have seen its affect on others. Hopefully someday compulsory overtime will be a thing of the past at GE Auburn -- and that would be a very good thing!

Plant shutdown gamble
Tom Casey, Type A setup & operate

George Santayana said, "Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it."

Why do I say this? Because the Auburn plant is about to repeat history as our next forced shutdown day approaches. Forced shutdowns haven't worked well in the past, so I'm always surprised that management continues to use it.

Before writing this article, I asked around for opinions about why people liked shutdown days.

It appears that some individuals who work in traditionally high production areas gamble on the fact they will be asked to work when the shutdown day comes around. Then, as a reward, management allows them to take a vacation day whenever they like, which ignores seniority and the company's own policy regarding the 10/20 percent rule.

So let's see if I have this right. If I am asked to work but choose to take the shutdown as planned, that's bad for customer service. So I'm a "bad employee." But if I "cooperate" by working the day as asked, then I can take a day off during the summer. Now I'm a "good employee." Brilliant!

The only problem is that now an even greater number of employees are out, which potentially harms customer service even more!

This policy is blatantly unfair to non-production workers, who seldom get asked to work the shutdown days. And it also creates a culture where some crafty employees can use the system to their own advantage.

The remedy should be clear, either drop the shutdown day practice or shutdown when you say you will. Since I can't believe management really thinks this policy is a good one, it appears to just be an "us against them" tactic.

Management is trying to save face and should admit this failed policy is wrong. In the mean-time, without a real voice in our affairs, we can only sit back and watch as history repeats itself.

Round table discussions: Much to do about nothing!
Chris Hartwell and Jill Starbird, VMC set-up

Recently Tom Lavalle came to Auburn for a "round table discussion" with employees. We can take some credit for raising issues in our "Working@GE" bulletins here at Auburn that prodded corporate to do an employee survey and send Mr. Lavalle.

We also had good representation of WAGE Committee members in attendance at the meetings. It was great to see so many employees who had never spoken out before bring up very specific complaints.

Unfortunately, what was supposed to be a roundtable discussion turned into a one-sided meeting. Lavalle had a slide show with the questions and answers from the survey. He told us the results and sometimes asked what our take was on some of the questions. If he didn't want to discuss a question, he would conveniently just move on to the next slide.

Our issues were generally not about wages, health care or other benefits that GE has to offer. We had questions about employee morale and the future of our jobs. Fairness, consistency, integrity, you know, all the issues we have a problem with here at Auburn.

As far as we're concerned it was yet another smoke screen to have us believe that management is responsive to our concerns. The end result...much to do about NOTHING!

It's a good thing that we have WAGE here. United in WAGE, we have a much better chance to have a real impact on these very issues.

(Excerpted from The Spirit and The Letter…)
Fair Employment Practices
Fair employment practices do more than keep GE in compliance with applicable labor and employment laws. They contribute to a culture of respect. GE is committed to complying with all laws pertaining to freedom of association, privacy, collective bargaining, immigration, working time, wages and hours, as well as laws prohibiting forced, compulsory and child labor and employment discrimination.

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