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Electrical contract calls for 'agency shop.'

More than 100,000 employees of the General Electric Co. and Westinghouse Electric Corp. were covered by agreements negotiated by a Coordinated Bargaining Committee comprising 13 unions. As usual, the first settlement was with GE and set a pattern for the Westinghouse accord.

One feature of the settlements was adoption of an agency shop provision requiring new employees and current employees who are not union members to either join the union at their facility or pay the union an amount equal to union dues. William H. Bywater, president of the International Union of Electronic Workers (IUE), said this will add 3,000 to 4,000 workers at GE alone "who will be paying for our services. It is the equivalent of organizing a new IUE shop of that many workers."

Another feature was new preferential hiring and other job security provisions intended to aid workers affected by plant closings. According to the IUE, 13,000 of the 60,000 workers it had represented at GE in 1982 have since been laid off. Two changes in the GE contracts designed to increase worker job security were (1) 5-year recall rights for workers laid off after completing 1 year of service (previously, recall rights ranged from 1 year for workers with 1 to 2 years of service to 5 years for those with 5 or more years of service), and (2) extending coverage of the Job and Income Security program by broadening the definition of "transfer of work" to cover all workers directly affected by cutbacks, including salaried, maintenance, and service shop workers. Previously, only production workers were covered by the program. The revised program provides for participants to have transfer rights to any of three GE plants within 250 miles of the plant where the layoffs occurred; 39-week pay guarantees for workers threatened by job losses resulting from the transfer of work or the introduction of automation, up from a 26 week guarantee; an immediate pension plus a $5,000 bonus for employees 60 or older with 15 years of service, who elect to be considered for termination (rather than "bumping" a shorter-service employee) because of such job losses, while those 55 to 60 years of age with 25 years of service would receive 50 percent pay continuation until they become eligible for pension or Social Security benefits; and $3,000 education and training payments to displaced workers, up from $1,800.

Wage provisions included immediate payments equal to 3 percent of the worker's pay rate multiplied by 2,080, the number of hours the workers are expected to be compensated for during the first contract year. If the employees are compensated for more than 2,080 hours during the year, they will receive an additional amount at the end of the year; if they are compensated for less than 2,080 hours, they will not have to refund the difference.

In June of 1986 and 1987, the employees will receive 3 percent specified wage increases. In addition, in a move to reduce the compression of pay rates that had developed over the years between workers in lower and higher pay grades, all rates were increased on July 1, 1985 by 1 cent for each full or partial 15-cent unit by which they exceeded $9.90 an hour.

During the first 2 contract years, employees' pay will be subject to automatic semiannual cost-of-living adjustments calculated at the existing rate of 1-cent-an-hour for each 0.175-percent rise in the Bureau of Labor Statistics CPI-W. In the third year, the formula will be 1 cent for each 0.15 percent rise in the CPI-W.

Workers hired after July 1, 1985, will not begin to move toward the top rate for their pay grade until they accrue 6 months of service and the number of steps to the top was increased by two for each grade.

Other provision included a two-stage increase in minimum pension rates, to a range of $16--$22 a month for each year of credited service; an increase in the "formula benefit," which generally results in pensions larger than calculated according to the minimum rates; a change in the employees contribution to the pension plan to 3 percent of annual earnings in excess of $14,000 (was $12,000); addition of vision care benefits; elimination of the insurance deductible for prescribed generic drugs; an increase in minimum life insurance coverage to $35,000 from $30,000; an increase in the maximum sickness and accident benefit to $250 a week, from $225; an increase in the number of sick and personal leave days allowed to be carried over from 1 year to the next from 20 to 30 days, with accrued days to be paid off at retirement; and adoption of a program intended to prevent unnecessary hospital admissions and procedures.

Railroad accord rejected

Bargaining between the Nation's railroad and the United Transportation Union (UTU) resumed after union members rejected a tentative settlement that could have served as a pattern-setter for the 12 other unions involved in the protracted round of negotiations with the industry. Only one of the union's crafts, the firemen, actually rejected the proposal, but the union's constitution requires unanimous approval by all seven crafts. The firemen may have been influenced to turn down the proposal because it was rumored to contain a provision for eliminating their jobs, beginning on November 1, 1985. The rumor apparently persisted despite UTU President Fred A. Hardin's assurances that the proposed contract only called for future negotiations on the long-standing issue of the appropriate number of firemen in a crew.

Other terms of the rejected 4-year proposal included a $565 immediate lump-sum payment, in lieu of making the first specified wage increase retroactive to the July 1, 1984, effective date of the contract; a total of 6 specified wage increases amounting to $10.5 percent, or an average of $1.37 an hour over the final 35 months; an increase in the distance to be traveled by a train crew during a work shift to qualify for a basic unit of pay; continuation of the provision for limited automatic cost-of-living pay adjustments; a lengthened pay progression schedule for new employees; and elimination of cabooses from certain types of trains.
COPYRIGHT 1985 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1985 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Ruben, George
Publication:Monthly Labor Review
Date:Sep 1, 1985
Words:1037
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