Oct 14, 2019
GE just announced that it is going to freeze pensions for 20,000 of its current salaried employees. These current employees retain the benefits they have accumulated through the end of 2020, but they won’t receive credit for additional years of work after that.
GE also intends to replace monthly pension payments with lump sum payments for 100,000 former employees who haven’t started collecting pensions yet.
According to the current CEO, GE has to find ways to pare down its debt of roughly 100 billion dollars that it had at the start of 2019! Debt that was incurred not because pension obligations were strapping GE, but because of deals GE has been embroiled in over the past two decades.
Previously, GE was an “acquisition machine, scooping up businesses in the industrial goods, media, health care and financials industries.” It wasn’t investing in production, it was on a shopping spree, buying up other companies and “handing a new burst of fee revenue to its favored bankers.”
And, in 2016 and 2017, the former CEO went on a $24 billion spending spree to buy back GE’s stock at what turned out to be extremely high prices. This also increased its debt.
In other words, executives at GE plundered the company. They speculated. They bought and sold and lost. They hid massive losses by taking on a mountain of bad debt and they incurred astronomical fees to the banks. They paid out dividends to their major stockholders and gave astronomical salaries and retirement packages to themselves.
And now they want the workforce to pay for it, robbing them of the guaranteed pensions they are rightfully owed as part of their compensation.
But GE isn’t alone in this grand theft. GE is doing what companies throughout the economy are doing: taking on record amounts of debt and then expecting their workforces to pay for it—whether it’s in slashed wages, benefits, or in this case, guaranteed pensions.