GE union workers voting on four-year contract today - WDRB 41 Louisville News

GE union workers voting on four-year contract today

Posted: Updated:
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Union workers at General Electric vote on a new four-year contract today. But employees seem split on their pending decision, especially as a buyout deal remains uncertain.

After three weeks of negotiations in New York, GE and union reps voted unanimously on a new proposed contract. 

"Sixty-four percent of our membership has never (gone) through a GE contract," said IUE-CWA Local 761 President Dana Crittendon.

Crittendon discussed the proposal Sunday with employees in Louisville.

"My message to everyone was, you know, this meeting here, we want to educate you, what's in this contract here and for you to decide, you know, what's best for you and your family," said Crittendon.

The new contract includes cash payments and wage increases, enhanced pay for military service, and no healthcare increases for the rest of the year.

GE unions across the country are set to vote on this new contract on Tuesday. If at least 51 percent of those vote yes here at Appliance Park, and it's approved nationwide, local union workers are set to get $4,500 in bonuses.

GE Appliance spokeswoman Kim Freeman calls the agreement fair and says it allows Appliance Park to stay competitive.

"We have invested over a billion dollars here, we've hired 3,000 new employees, we're in the process of investing another $250 million," said Freeman, "and when companies are looking for a place where they want to invest, they want a positive productive workforce that says, 'yes we can get this job done.' They don't want to invest with a company that says 'no.'"

Stephanie Wales has been an employee at Appliance Park for 8-1/2 years and is one of more than 3,800 union workers at the plant.

"People are scared," said Wales. "You know, this is our livelihood, this is how we pay our bills, this is how we feed our family, so just the unknown -- we just fear it."

That unknown is the pending sale to Electrolux. The company is trying to buy GE's appliance division and the deal still needs regulatory approval.

If it goes through this year, Electrolux could keep the contract or try and re-negotiate it, leaving employees uncertain about their future.

"We don't know if we're going to be General Electric come 2016 or we'll be Electrolux come the end of July, which seems to be the rumor going around the park: after the end of July, we'll be Electrolux," said GE employee Levi Bishop. "And if that's the case, a lot of us feel this contract isn't geared toward us."

GE says a no-vote on Tuesday would derail all of the great things going on at the park.

If it's voted down nationally, it could send everything back to negotiations.

RELATED: 

Electrolux promises $50 million more in savings from GE deal

Electrolux CEO: GE Appliance Park will be 'integral' part of combined company

Electrolux has history of moving work to lower-wage factories

Copyright 2015 WDRB News. All rights reserved.
Powered by Frankly
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2017 WDRB. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy, and Terms of Service, and Ad Choices.