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Strike Mic – October 08, 2013

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A group of Indiana University Students have been meeting in the Indiana University Memorial Union every Monday evening for more than a year.

The group is a crucial component in bringing attention to IU employment practices, tuition increases, and the current lack of minority representation on campus.

The assembly in collaboration with WFHB, brings weekly updates of the work to inform our listeners of the practices of IU administration, and the work being done to address labor issues on campus and in our community.

This is…The Strike Mic.

Tune in to the Daily Local News every Tuesday for a new edition of The Strike Mic, a weekly update from your friends and neighbors working to strengthen the voice of IU students and staff.

Local GE Appliance Plant Working With Union To Eliminate 160 Production Jobs

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Local management and labor at the Bloomington GE Appliance plant are currently working out how the elimination of 160 production jobs will be handled.

On September 9, management announced that approximately 35 percent of the job shedding will be through early retirement provisions and the rest, around 100, will be laid off.

Since then, workers at the plant held rallies demanding there be no layoffs, and instead that GE cut its workforce only through early retirement and natural attrition.

WFHB requested interviews with GE, and instead received written statements reiterating what was already said.

We were able to speak to Carven Thomas, president of Bloomington Local 2249 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, which represents the production workers at the local GE facility.

He talked about his local’s suggestion to management on the Special Early Retirement Option, and other means to avoid layoffs.

“We have a lot of folks in our building that are eligible to retire,” Thomas says, “If the company allowed a voluntary early retirement option for our 60-year-olds, only 30 workers would have to be laid off.”

The early retirement option would apply to any worker 55 years or older with 25 years of service at GE.

The union suggestion is designed not only to lessen the financial penalty of layoffs, but to allow older workers to retire early and keep younger workers on the job and the payroll.

Thomas told us that management said the cost of their suggestion was prohibitive.

“They’re saying it would cost $340,000 for each person to retire,” Thomas says.

Nevertheless, the union-management meetings have produced some increase in the number of employees who will be shed through early retirement packages.

“There won’t be as many as we would like, and we’re still in the process of negotiating more early retirements,” Thomas says.

GE management has been meeting with the union every day, and Thomas says he hopes they will continue until the union gets a good enough offer for a decision to be made.

Daily Local News – October 1, 2013

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The Hoosier National Forest, with land throughout our listening area, has begun preparations for shutting down operations until a budget is passed; Local management and labor at the Bloomington GE Appliance plant are in protracted over how the elimination of one hundred and sixty production jobs will be handled; WFHB launches the first on-location report of the resistance to IU’s administrative actions on: The Strike Mic.

FEATURE
Young on Stalemate
A House Budget Bill with a provision of a one-year Affordable Care Act Delay was rejected by the Senate late last night, causing a stalemate on the eve of the budget due date that caused a spending freeze on all federal operations, beginning today. WFHB News Director Alycin Bektesh spoke with Indiana Congressman Todd Young about what the spending freeze means and what will resolve the congressional stalemate, for today’s WFHB feature exclusive.

INS AND OUTS OF MONEY
Ashley and Sarah share some scary stories of financial woe, and offer ways to fight debt demons and money monsters onThe Ins and Outs of Money, our weekly segment providing economic education to keep your budget balanced, and connecting you to community resources that help you keep your finances flourishing.

CREDITS
Anchors: Shayne Laughter, Harrison Wagner
Today’s headlines were written by David Murphy,
and today’s feature was produced by Alycin Bektesh.
The Ins and Outs of Money is produced by Dan Withered, in partnership with the Monroe County Public Library and Untied of Monroe County
Editor is Drew Daudelin,
Executive Producer is Alycin Bektesh.

Local General Electric Plant To Layoff One Third Of Employees

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Management at the local GE Appliances plant has informed its hourly employees that one third of them will be laid off.

Carven Thomas, President of Local 2249 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers at the Bloomington plant, confirmed this today.

He told us that he wouldn’t be able to provide us with much detail on the layoffs until he had met with his fellow members to discuss the issue.

He did agree to give us some basic information, such as the numbers they were given.

“They’re going to take our numbers down from 496 hourly employees to 360,” Thomas says.

Thomas says the employer cited a thirty percent decline in side-by-side refrigerator production since 2010 as the root cause for these layoffs.

Several years ago, the Daily Local News covered reports about GE’s plans to close its Bloomington plant entirely and move production to Mexico.

The local union and the company negotiated a collective agreement, wherein the company agreed to upgrade the plant, to enable it to make more energy efficient and competitively priced side-by-side refrigerator, in return for pay concessions from the union, thereby retaining and even increasing hourly jobs.

Thomas says GE has turned its back on this agreement.

“They decide they’re not going to make the investment so they’re going to turn that wage freeze,” Thomas says.
The Bloomington GE plant is one of the few remaining consumer goods manufacturing facilities in the region.

Local 2249 members will meet tomorrow afternoon to discuss the employers’ announcement and their response to it.

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