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GE’s largest union votes to ratify contract, Lynn branch calls off strike

LYNN — Despite threats to walk off the job, General Electric Co. employees will not strike after all. 

The company’s largest union, International Union of Electrical Workers — Communications Workers of America (IUE-CWA) voted to ratify a revised four-year labor contract on Tuesday night. 

“I think that it was a long fight and a long battle to get to where we were,” said Adam Kaszynski, president of IUE Local 201, which represents 1,250 employees at GE’s River Works Plant in Lynn. “Membership has the final say and membership voted to accept the agreement. 

“Our top three demands were wages, healthcare, and the cost of living, and the negotiating committee was able to get GE to make improvements in those categories.”

Kaszynski declined to provide the final vote tally in Lynn, explaining that the union doesn’t release the local vote count after a ratification. 

The approval comes a month after union membership, including IUE Local 201, rejected an initial offer from the company and a week after a tentative agreement was reached between IUE-CWA and GE negotiators. 

Changes to the proposed contract over four years include a wage increase totaling $2.80 per hour, up from the initial $1.80, which includes an additional 20 cents in a general wage increase and 80 cents for a cost of living increase; a total cash compensation of more than $14,000, up from $12,000; and a 4.9 percent employee healthcare premium contribution in the final three years, which is down from the 5.9 percent contribution first proposed, according to the company. 

“We’re pleased to announce the IUE-CWA membership ratified the four-year agreement with GE,” said GE spokesman Richard Gorham. “This is good news for our Lynn employees, the plant, GE Aviation and the company. We appreciate working with union leadership to produce a package that provides increased wages and improved benefits for our employees.” 

IUE-CWA was the last of the company’s 11 unions to ratify the labor contract, said Gorham, who added the company was looking forward to moving ahead to continue serving its customers.

City Council President Darren Cyr said at Tuesday night’s council meeting that the contract ratification was good news for the city of Lynn and all of the GE workers. 

Last month was the first time the union collectively voted to reject a national contract with the company since 1969. Following the vote, Local 201 members were told by union leadership to prepare for a strike. Contract negotiations began three weeks before the previous deal expired on June 23. 

After a revised tentative agreement was reached between negotiators last week, the Local 201 Policy Board, which includes Kaszynski, voted to recommend ratification of the contract by an 8-2 vote. Days later, 201’s Stewards Council, which overwhelmingly rejected the original contract, voted, 19-11, to recommend ratification. 

Contract negotiations have taken place at a time when the firm’s aviation business, including the River Works, are the bright spot on GE’s gloomy financial landscape.

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