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January 23, 2013

General Electric union votes to issue 'strike notice'

LYNN — The union representing 1,900 workers at the General Electric aviation plant in Lynn is threatening to go on strike over the company’s practice of outsourcing work.

The IUE-CWA Local 201 grievance board voted unanimously yesterday to issue a strike notice to General Electric.

Local 201 Business Agent Ric Casilli said the vote means the union can put the company on notice at any time in the next year that it plans to strike within 24 hours.

Casilli said GE Aviation, which makes jet engines, has been “farming out” more work to other plants or vendors in violation of the union’s contract. He said the practice increased after 215 union members retired in late 2011 and early 2012.

“We said to the company, ‘You’ve got to hire back, we’re 215 people short,’” Casilli said. “Since then, they’ve hired 115 members back, but we’re still short 100 people. That’s the heart of what’s causing the issue. When a manager is short manpower, the easiest thing to do is to farm out work to an outside vendor or another plant.”

This is the first time that the union has issued a strike notice since 2007, according to Casilli. The last strike came in 2002, when the union walked out for four days, also over the outsourcing issue, he said.

Yesterday’s vote followed a vote last Thursday by Local 201 shop stewards recommending the strike notice be issued.

The union said in a press release that strike notices will be sent to the company “on a date and time subject to the discretion of the Business Agent.”

“At that time, the union would be willing to meet with the company immediately to discuss the dispute and contemplated action,” the union said.

GE spokesman Richard Gorham said the company had not received a strike notice as of yesterday so he could not comment.

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