Friday, May 12, 2006

GE workers mobilizing to maintain funding for good full time jobs in Lynn, MA and in Hooksett, NH

Lynn, MA - Leaders of IUE-CWA Local 201 sent petitions on May 11 signed by over 1,000 workers to President George Bush demanding an immediate reconsideration of the Pentagon's decision to single source it's next advanced Joint Strike Fighter aircraft engine from one company.

The petitions reflect work by union stewards and committee members during two month-long membership education and political action campaign to build grassroots pressure on Congress to reverse the Pentagon decision.

In a letter to President Bush accompanying the petitions, Local 201 union president Jeff Crosby wrote, "The GE-Rolls Royce alternative engine for the Joint Strike Fighter makes sense from a public policy and employment point of view. It seems that the Iraq war and the Bush budget deficit is distorting even military procurement decisions for long-term planning. We lost jobs here in Lynn in the 1980s when the Defense Department dual-sourced a GE fighter engine to save money through competition. The same logic should apply now."

A U.S. Senate Armed Forces subcommittee voted on May 4 to join a House of Representatives subcommittee in calling for restoration of funding for a backup engine made by a partnership between British-based Rolls Royce and GE. The Bush-Rumsfeld proposal to kill the GE-Roll project is facing growing opposition in Congress.

The defense contract could mean 800 jobs at GE's Aviation plant in Evendale, Ohio and 300 jobs for the company's River Works aircraft engine manufacturing plant in Lynn, Massachusetts when it goes into final production in 2009. It also represents 10 percent of future employment at the Hooksett, NH GE plant.

The next hurdle is to make sure that the funding is maintained in the Defense Authorization and Defense Appropriations bills that Congress is expected to send to President Bush for his signature sometime this summer. The House and Senate Armed Forces subcommittees voted to approve the contract funding last week. The full House of Representatives is expected to vote on it today. The timetable for a vote in the Senate is still not known.

The Massachusetts Congressional delegation, especially Senator Kennedy and Congressmen John Tierney and Marty Meehan, have played an active role to defend the GE-Rolls project.

Senator Kennedy has called the Local 201 union hall twice to keep union leaders up to date on the bill's progress.

President Bush and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld have opposed the contract because they believe they could save $1.8 billion next year. However, the union say that duel sourcing of the jet fighter aircraft engines would save taxpayers as much as $12 billion over the long run.

In addition to the River Works plant in Lynn, signatures for the petitions were gathered at Wilmington's Ametek Aerospace and over a half dozen North Shore GE vendors that depend on contracts from GE. Workers at GE's Hooksett, NH plant also made a significant showing of support by collecting signatures. The Hooksett plant supplies engine parts for assembly in Lynn.

A meeting of GE workers who live in southern New Hampshire to discuss the importance of the Joint Strike Fighter aircraft program with Representative Jeb Bradley is set for May 15 in Manchester. Rep. Bradley serves on the House Armed Services Committee and is a member of the Tactical Air and Land Forces Subcommittee.
For a copy of the letter to President Bush, contact Rand Wilson at

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Auburn WAGE Bulletin, April 28, 2006

Auburn WAGE hosts meeting with member of GE union’s National Negotiating Committee
Our WAGE Committee gathered on April 23 to hear from Ric Casilli, a leader of IUE-CWA Local 201 in Lynn, Mass. Casilli - a veteran of three previous national contract negotiations with GE - will again be a negotiator at talks with top management expected to begin in May 2007.

Casilli came to Auburn to give a preview of some of the anticipated bargaining issues and the timing of nationally coordinated membership activities to spotlight employees' top concerns.

The existing agreement with GE, covering approximately 10,000 members, expires June 18, 2007. Another 10,000 plus union members in 13 different unions will also be impacted as part of coordinated bargaining.

GE has traditionally used the wage and benefit package negotiated with its union members to set the pattern for what it gives to its nonunion workers. Benefits for tens of thousands of retirees are likely to be affected as well.

"Most people know what big business wants these days," said Casilli. "Just about every corporation - even very profitable ones like GE - is seeking to roll back the gains that workers have made in their health care and pension benefits."

The number of workers united in unions at GE has declined from about 35 percent in 1980 to less than 15 percent today.

"We've held off GE in past years, but as union membership declines, it's getting harder and harder," said Casilli. "The only way we can defend GE workers wages and benefits is by uniting all GE workers behind the unions' national negotiating committee."

"That means our campaign has to educate and involve many more workers from non-union plants. WAGE committees like the one here in Auburn are really leading the way," Casilli concluded.

"Everyone at GE should pay very close attention to these national negotiations. Whether you support unions or not, our fate is closely tied to the outcome of these talks." -- Jill Starbird

WAGE members discussed participating in a national survey to help the Negotiating Committee determine members' top priorities for contract negotiations. We also talked about raising funds to send members from Auburn to contract rallies, union meetings and national negotiating sessions.

-- text box

Auburn WAGE voted to join Maine’s Fair Trade Campaign. The campaign is organizing a public hearing on trade issues Thursday, May 11 at 6:00 PM at Andover College, 475 Lisbon St., in Lewiston. Everyone is urged to attend.

The job you save could be your own!