Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Auburn WAGE Bulletin, April 3, 2006

Kudos to Auburn management!
Jill Starbird, VMC set-up

On behalf of the Auburn WAGE committee I would like to thank our management for some recent positive developments. After mandating mandatory Saturdays, beginning with a Holiday weekend, our MSO and manager of customer service called our department in for a meeting. This meeting was to THANK us for giving the extra effort needed to provide customer service.

I for one was most surprised and flattered. What a good feeling that simple gesture provided.

Management then took back the mandatory vacation/shutdown days acknowledging that it didn't work. And they re-instituted the employee "birthday" meetings!

Some of our co-workers have said that WAGE is always too negative about GE and our local management. But now it appears that better communication between workers and management is beginning to emerge. It is a step in the right direction and the WAGE committee is more than happy to give our thanks for listening.

Handbook committee shows management is more level headed than we thought!
Tom Casey, Type A setup & operate

Over the past few months, I served on the company handbook re-write committee. Initially I was apprehensive about it. But to my surprise, my fears were unfounded and management showed that it could be both a good listener and patient.

We met eight to ten times and I felt that all of the employees on the committee were listened to -- and respected -- at each meeting.

We went through the old handbook line by line. Everybody had a chance to suggest changes. Of course the challenge for all of us was to balance the legitimate needs of the business with our needs. We always were looking for a middle ground. As a result the end product was not perfect, but we did make some improvements.

On one occasion, by trying to fix one problem, the committee created a bigger one. Fortunately, we were allowed time to show a draft to everyone in the shop, were we got feedback on the mistake and were able to correct it.

As pleased as I was with this process, it really solidified my support for WAGE and for eventually having a collective bargaining rights here at Auburn. It showed me just how a union negotiation could work here -- with give and take on both sides toward a common goal.

If we were united for our common interests in a union, the big difference would be the support and backing we would receive from the national union.

We would have access to independent research showing us how people in other GE locations are dealing with similar problems and with the solidarity of the many other unionized GE locations, we would have more clout to achieve our goals.

Just as importantly, if we were united with the rest of the union manufacturing plants, we would add badly needed "strength in numbers" for the upcoming national negotiations to protect our medical benefits, pension plan, and wages.

The new handbook is a real improvement. But it is not legally enforceable and GE can change it at any time. And just like any document of this nature, it is only as good as the people who administer it. Nevertheless, by sticking together in WAGE, we can use the grievance procedure to keep management on its toes and make sure they live up to it.

GE: go BIG
(From page 7 of GE's 2005 Annual Report)

Note 7, Pension Benefits
"We sponsor a number of pension plans. Principal pension plans, together with affiliate and certain other pension plans (other pension plans), detailed in this note represent about 99% of our total pension assets.

"PRINCIPAL PENSION PLANS are the GE Pension Plan and the GE Supplementary Pension Plan.

"The GE Pension Plan provides benefits to certain U.S. employees based on the greater of a formula recognizing career earnings or a formula recognizing length of service and final average earnings.

"Certain benefit provisions are subject to collective bargaining."

We all have a BIG stake in upcoming negotiations with GE concerning our health care and pension benefits!
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