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GE Reaches Labor Deal With Union Leaders

General Electric
reached a tentative four-year agreement with a group of unions late Monday after a few weeks of negotiations, keeping a labor peace as the conglomerate restructures its operations.

The agreement covers about 6,600 workers in 11 unions who work in various GE industrial divisions, including a power turbine factory in Schenectady, N.Y., and an aviation facility in Lynn, Mass.

Union negotiators reached a handshake agreement with the company a day after the previous contract expired. They will now seek the approval of other union leaders and, in the coming weeks, hold a ratification vote by union members.

In a notice to members, the unions said the agreement includes “several general wage increases spread over four years and controls employee health-care costs.” Additional details weren’t immediately available.

The labor deal comes as the sprawling conglomerate is selling off pieces of itself. Four years ago, the same union talks covered about 16,500 workers, but the company has since sold its transportation division and its appliance division. It is in the process of separating its oil and gas business and a major portion of its health-care division. The once-reliable quarterly GE stock dividend is now a penny per share and GE has a new CEO in Larry Culp, the first outsider in the role.

The company incorporated the recent challenges into its labor negotiations by pushing to cut health-care costs and adjust benefits. Labor leaders, who were authorized by members to call a strike, contended that workers had already made sacrifices for the company and weren’t responsible for its decline.

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