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HRC Praises GE & Unions for Adding Domestic Partner Benefits

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    Thursday, June 19, 2003 HRC Praises General Electric Co. and Unions for Adding Domestic Partner Benefits Policy Would Bring Company Up To Speed with Majority
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 21, 2003
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      Thursday, June 19, 2003

      HRC Praises General Electric Co. and Unions for Adding Domestic
      Partner Benefits

      Policy Would Bring Company 'Up To Speed' with Majority of Fortune 100
      Firms

      WASHINGTON — General Electric Co., one of the nation's largest
      and
      oldest manufacturing and financial services companies and the owner
      of the NBC television network, has announced that the company's new
      union contracts include health care coverage for employees' same-sex
      domestic partners. The new policy, in contracts with the
      International Union of Electrical Works and the Communications
      Workers of America to be voted on June 24, would bring the number of
      Fortune 100 companies with domestic partner benefits to 64, according
      to the Human Rights Campaign Foundation's WorkNet project.

      "This was a smart move by both GE and the unions since domestic
      partner benefits make good business sense and are a step toward equal
      pay for equal work," said Kim I. Mills, HRC's education director, who
      oversees HRC WorkNet. "We urge all union members to ratify these
      contracts and bring GE up to speed with its competitors."

      The benefits would extend to all GE employees in the United States,
      pending ratification of the contracts, a company spokesman told the
      Human Rights Campaign on Thursday. GE, based in Fairfield, Conn., is
      No. 5 on the Fortune 500 list. If ranked independently, 13 GE
      businesses would appear in the Fortune 500. Each of the last five
      years, The Financial Times named GE the world's most-respected
      company.

      "If the contracts are ratified, GE's step forward will leave only
      three holdouts – Wal-Mart, ExxonMobil and AIG – in the top 10
      of the
      Fortune list without such coverage," said Daryl Herrschaft, who
      manages HRC WorkNet. "Almost 40 percent of the Fortune 500 now offer
      these benefit, up from just 17 percent at the beginning of 2000. HRC
      continues to work with fair-minded companies of all sizes to expand
      equal enefits for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender employees."

      A complete list of Fortune companies with domestic partner benefits
      is available at
      http://www.hrc.org/worknet/asp_search/results.asp?
      sKey=List&List=I&t=DP
      HRC WorkNet has been collaborating for several years with employees
      inside NBC and CNBC to obtain these benefits. NBC is the only one of
      the major television networks without domestic partner benefits.

      GE CEO Jeffery Immelt, who was appointed in September 2001, told
      employees in March that it wasn't a matter of if but when the company
      would extend the benefits. If ratified, employees would be able to
      enroll during the open enrollment period in the fall and the benefits
      would be effective Jan. 1, 2004. Following a shareholder resolution
      sponsored by GLBT advocates, the company added sexual orientation to
      its non-discrimination policy in March 2000.

      The Human Rights Campaign is the largest national lesbian and gay
      political organization with members throughout the country. It
      effectively lobbies Congress, provides campaign support and educates
      the public to ensure that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender
      Americans can be open, honest and safe at home, at work and in the
      community.

      For Immediate Release

      - 30 -
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