FAIRFIELD, Conn. -- General Electric Co. and its two largest labor unions reached tentative agreements yesterday on contracts affecting more than 20,000 employees nationwide, company and union leaders said.
The new four-year agreements replace contracts that were set to expire at midnight last night.
If ratified by union members June 28, terms of the contracts with the two unions also would be extended to nine other unions that have local contracts with GE.
Negotiations between GE and its unions have been viewed as a possible bellwether for manufacturers nationwide, which are watching how the conglomerate handles issues such as pensions and rising health care costs.
"We have achieved our goal of producing balanced contracts that benefit both employees and GE," said Bill Conaty, the company's senior vice president, in a statement issued jointly with union leaders yesterday.
"These agreements provide employees with good wages and excellent benefits while allowing GE businesses to continue competing in tough global markets," he said.
Specifics were not given yesterday about details in the proposed agreements.
However, union leaders said the contracts accelerate joint efforts to address health care issues, add Veterans Day as a holiday, and include provisions to help workers with shorter service.
The IUE-CWA and the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America (UE) are the largest unions representing GE workers.
GE's union workers make aircraft engines, appliances, locomotives, medical equipment, power turbines, and other products across the country. The terms cover GE workers in Arkansas City, Kan.; Louisville, Ky.; Lynn, Mass.; Schenectady, N.Y.; Erie, Pa.; and elsewhere.