• Lawsuit: GE Cannot Cut Retiree Benefits

    A coalition of Kentucky labor unions sued General Electric (GE) Monday over a decision to significantly cut healthcare benefits for retired company workers.

    The company’s officials made the decision to cut benefits back in July. Starting Jan. 1, the company will no longer offer supplemental healthcare and prescription drug coverage for retirees, according to The Business Journals. The Medicare cuts will impact 130,000 former hourly workers and their spouses. IUE-CWA filed the lawsuit with the Northern District of Ohio courts.

    “We are outraged that a very profitable General Electric Corp. would choose to break promises to its retirees during the most vulnerable time of their lives, after they gave decades of service to this company,” IUE-CWA President James Clark said in a statement provided to the Fox affiliated in Kentucky.

    The coalition represents 3,800 hourly workers at GE Appliance Park in Louisville, Ky. The lawsuit alleges the company is in violation of the Employer Retirement Income Security Act, because previous labor contracts made the benefits official. The company, however, argues it has not broken any laws.

    “GE acted properly, lawfully and consistent with collective bargaining requirements in making changes to the post-65 supplemental Medicare and prescription drug benefits for retired union members,” GE told The Business Journals in a prepared statement. “These changes are consistent with trends among other large companies.”

    Instead of GE offering its own benefits, retirees will get to pick from private plans. The company will then reimburse plans up to $1,000 per person on an annual basis. Other unions involved include United Electrical Workers, United Auto Workers, International Association of Machinists, United Steelworkers, Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Teamsters and the Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers. All the unions represent GE workers.

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