In the midst of a tough negotiation with GE Datex-Ohmeda, IAM Local 1406, IAM District 10 members and their families recently gathered for a rally in Madison, WI as a sign of solidarity and to remind the company that these were the hardworking men and women who spent the pandemic on the frontlines building anesthesia, respiratory and infant care machines. Their life-saving ventilators were used around the world to fight the pandemic.
“As the pandemic raged it was workers, not CEOs, who kept this country from falling apart,” said IAM District 10 Directing Business Representative Alex Hoekstra. “The members of IAM 1406 worked tirelessly to build the ventilators that saved countless lives and made General Electric massive profits. District 10 is incredibly proud to represent these heroes and I call on General Electric management to reward them appropriately.”
“Our members put everything on the line during the pandemic to help produce equipment that saved lives. They risked their health and the health of their family members to come to work because they knew, there were lives at stake,” said IAM Midwest Territory General Vice President Steve Galloway. “It’s now time for the company to honor their hard work and sacrifices by negotiating a contract that takes care of these working class heroes, the way in which they took care of the American public.”
Without much fanfare or recognition, these IAM members made history during the pandemic and saved lives when this country needed it the most.
Amazing stories by our Local 1406 members at the #GE Datex-Ohmeda facility in Madison, Wisconsin.
— Machinists Union ✈️🚊🚀 (@MachinistsUnion) May 26, 2020
At the start of the COVID-19 surge in 2020, the group agreed to a one-year contract extension with the hope of securing a new and equitable collective bargaining agreement for the members once the pandemic had settled. The agreement allowed GE salary employees to work alongside production employees for a few months as the company attempted to meet global production needs. Due to the continued need for medical equipment, GE Datex-Ohmeda increased its production employee hiring efforts through 2020.
"Every ventilator we get off the end of our line and out of our building is saving a life,” said IAM Local 1406 member Trevar Smedal, who works at Madison’s GE Datex-Ohmeda manufacturing plant. https://t.co/xvXii39Ezz
— Machinists Union ✈️🚊🚀 (@MachinistsUnion) April 21, 2020
Today, with the full backing of the IAM, the membership is at the negotiation table demanding a new contract which will provide long-term job security, wage increases, safe and reasonable working conditions, strong benefits for the membership and their families and a secure retirement plan.
The group hopes the sacrifices made by themselves and their families during the pandemic will be recognized by the company with a fair IAM contract. Today, the IAM and the company are continuing to negotiate for a future collective bargaining agreement. Both parties have agreed to a nine-day extension, which expires on June 24, 2021. A ratification vote could happen before that date.