GE Workers Strike Against Higher Health Costs

February 4, 2003

Nineteen thousand (19,000) GE workers organized a 2-day national strike on January 14-16 to protest increases in health insurance costs.

On January 1, in mid-contract, GE unilaterally imposed increases in health insurance co-payments which will cost the average employee as much as $400/year. The workers, represented by the International Union of Electrical Workers and the United Electrical workers expect the company to try to further cut health benefits for its 145,000 employees when negotiations for a new contract begin in May. The 2-day strike, which included workers at 48 sites in 23 states, was a first step on the workers' part of organizing their resistance to these attacks.

In the last contract, the union accepted lower raises in order to preserve health care benefits. But even though GE made $16 billion in profits last year, it is going full-steam ahead with attempts to cut benefits and further increase the exploitation of the workers.

The struggle of the GE workers is important to the entire working class. All across the country, employers are trying to shift health care costs onto the backs of the workers. For example, between 2001-2002, workers' premiums for single coverage increased by 27% on average, while family coverage premium increased 16%.

In the coming period, more and more workers will have to follow the path of the GE workers and come out in struggle to defend their health care coverage.