GE Union members meet to discuss contract proposal

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE)- Hundreds turned out for a closed door meeting at Thomas Jefferson Middle School to talk about one thing. A proposed contract between General Electric and two of it's largest unions. They are the IUE-CWA and the United Electrical, Radio and Machine workers of America (UE).

"I just don't see it helping me at all." Marx Walkker, a union member who has worked with General Electric for 20 years said.

The unions leaders and GE reached a tentative agreement on the proposal.

An internal memo from the IUE-CWA president says healthcare costs could go up 2.5%. Some union members say it'll hurt their families.

"It's going to put me in a bind for money," Bille Joe Baugh, a union member said "I've got a house payment and bills just like everybody else. By the time I pay all these deductibles, and healthcare prescriptions, it's really going to put me in a bind."

General Electric says the proposal also includes wage increases plus a $5,000 cash payment. Still, some union members aren't convinced.

"It means it's going to put a hardship on me, in my opinion. It's just going to be more money out of my pocket that I don't have," Walker said.

General Electric says the plan is "consumer driven."

"By 'consumer driven,' I mean employees will have to pay a little bit more out of pocket, but it's also important to realize employees who make less, pay less,"  Kim Freeman, a spokeswoman, for GE Appliances & lighting said. "So, it's really a very fair plan."

Other union members say they agree

"It's a fair contract." Union member, Neel Powers said.

Cheryl Fisher, a union member also attended the meeting. She says she supports the proposal.

"You know...I think it's a good contract," She said.  "I think it's fair. As long as they didn't take anything from us, I think we'll be alright with it."

Freeman says she thinks about the consequences if the vote is not ratified.

"I think failure to ratify this contract could send very much the wrong message that GE is not the place to invest in the future, that's not good for any of us," She said.

"If we don't ratify, we could very possibly strike. An extended strike isn't good for anyone."

Union members vote on Tuesday June 28, 2011.

Copyright 2011 WAVE 3 News. All rights reserved.