(en) Workers Mobilize against General Electric

Lyn and Shawn (linjin@tao.ca)
Mon, 26 May 1997 13:08:23 pst

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Subject: Major labor mobilization May 31 in Lynn MAThe workers at General Electric are bracing for a fight. On June 9, the Date: Mon, 26 May 1997 10:11:31 -0500 From: Anthony Arnove <anthony.arnove@nol.shareworld.com>

Anyone in the Northeast who can possibly come out Saturday, May 31, to a demonstration against union busting in Lynn Mass. should do so. Thousands are expected to attend this rally, sponsored by IUE 201 and Massachusetts Jobs with Justice.

GE CEO Jack Welch is already bringing in scabs for interviews at the Ramada Inn in East Boston.

The following info is from an article by Annie Zirin in Socialist Worker newspaper:

The workers at General Electric are bracing for a fight. On June 9, the three year national contract covering 46,000 GE workers will expire, launching a major collective bargaining struggle. The contract covers 14 different unions at General Electric which bargain together as the Coordinated Bargaining Council. The largest union at GE is the International Union of Electrical Workers (IUE), which covers 25,000 workers.

GE's CEO Jack Welch has made it clear that he is ready for a showdown with the unions. In a videotaped speech to management, Welch insisted there would be no compromise with union demands. "We will not be forced to take on non-competitive measures under any circumstances," Welch said. "We'll set record for how to run a company if we have a strike. We will show how to operate in a strike and not flinch. Let's be prepared to operate like it never happened, if a strike happens."

This is a clear threat, should a strike take place, to permanently replace GE's unionized workers. The unions' major demands concern job security, early retirement, better pensions, and guards against plant closings. They will have to fight bitterly to win these demands. In the past few years, Welch has laid off tens of thousands of union workers, closed down plants, and outsourced work to non union facilities. As Welch bragged to management, "We have been profitable. Very, very profitable." GE is one of the largest US companies, showing profits in 1996 of 7.8 billions dollars. By GE's own calculations, the company makes 15 dollars per hour per worker in profit.. GE makes everything from lightbulbs to aircraft engines, and is also a top military contractor, producing nuclear weapons and land mines. GE has also been a leader in "globalizing jobs" as a big exploiter of maquiadora workers in Mexico.

Welch is one of the best paid "corporate killers", with a salary of $30 million dollars and year and $316 million in GE stock.. GE has not seen a national strike since the 101 day battle in 1969. Other history? GE is a formidable enemy and the unions will need to show tremendous unity and militancy in order to win. So far, there are some promising signs. On April 27, 3000 workers rallied in Louisville KY. On May 31st, IUE Local 201 expects thousands to rally at the GE aircraft engine plant in Lynn MA. The union coalition "Jobs With Justice" has called a National Day of Action at GE for June 12. Locals are sending delegates to each other's rallies to build rank and file unity. As one GE worker told a meeting of union activists, "If there is a strike, we won't just sit on the picket line and let scabs take our jobs. It will be a strike of a different nature. We have to prepare now." A militant strike against layoffs and outsourcing would electrify the labor movement and put pressure on Sweeny and the AFL-CIO to provide the kind of support that it failed to show for the Detroit Newspaper strikers. Everybody should come out to the May 31 rally in Lynn MA. Meet at 11Am at Lynn Tech High School. Call 617-646-1594 for more info. (or IUE 201 at 617-598-2760)

Or contact Anthony Arnove by email at anthony.arnove@nol.shareworld.com

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