General Electric (GE)
• General Electric is one of the largest, most influential corporations in terms of revenue and scope of its media operations and ownership.
• General Electric Co. manufactures electrical equipment, lighting products and household appliances, and also owns the broadcasting network NBC.
• GE is responsible for toxic Superfund sites, knowingly exposing people to radioactive material, and has been fighting Superfund clean-up laws that hold the company accountable for damage caused by years of careless PCB dumping.
• GE has also secured millions of dollars in defense and military contracts, earning itself a place among notorious war profiteering companies.
• Use Go Green to find local eco-friendly alternatives.
-- Profile Updated 07/07/2010
About General Electric (GE)
General Electric Co. manufactures electrical equipment, lighting products and household appliances. It also owns the broadcasting network NBC. Headquartered in Fairfield, Connecticut, the company employs 319,000 people and reported sales of $163.4 billion in 2006.
Citizens to Cleanup GE is a project of the non-profit organization Essential Information that seeks to keep pressure on General Electric to clean up the Hudson River. Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) were found in the Hudson River over 25 years ago, and since then GE has dodged its own responsibility and stalled cleanup efforts repeatedly. Exposure to PCBs have been linked to cancer, reproductive and immune system damage, and endocrine disruption. Join with Citizens to Cleanup GE to help ensure the safety of the Hudson River Valley population.
Stop Big Media
The nonprofit, nonpartisan group Free Press sponsors public campaigns to fight concentrated big media ownership. General Electric is the largest, most influential corporation in terms of revenue and scope of its media operations and ownership. Free Press asks citizens to take action against a complete media takeover by giants GE, Time Warner, Vivendi Universal, Viacom and Disney by opposing the FCC’s lax enforcement of media ownership rules.
GE Commercial Finance
- GE Consumer Finance
- GE Health Care
GE Health Care
- GE Industrial
- GE Infrastructure
- NBC Universal
Contact General Electric (GE)
General Electric (GE)
Fairfield, CT 06828 USA
Compare General Electric (GE) to other companies in these industries
GE still struggling to clean up a toxic chemical spill in the Hudson River. After several years of fighting against the cleanup, GE is still working to clean up the spill that occurred over 25 years ago. The chemical in the river is known as PCBs, which is harmful to animals and people. The spill is 197-miles long and will cost the company $750 million to clean up. The first phase has been completed but with much difficulty.
-- New York Times, 02/08/2010
Ethics and Governance
GE compared to Enron due to recent suits and practices. GE was recently sued $50 million for playing with their books repeatedly in the last decade. A recent accountant employee also reports being told to do things illegally by executives. An investigation of GE found three violations in the books. These situations among others are very similar events that appeared when the Enron scandal broke out. GE disagrees with such claims saying that they are a reputable company and that these mistakes are minimum compared to their total profit.
-- New York Times, 08/06/2009
General Electric was rated as the 7th worst polluter on the Political Economy Research Institute's Toxic 100 index. The index is based on EPA Toxics Release Inventory data. PERI's Toxic 100 index ranks the nation's largest companies based on the quantity of their emissions, relative toxicity of chemicals emitted, and proximity to population centers, among other criteria.
-- Political Economy Research Institute (PERI), 07/15/2008
Source URL: www.peri.umass.edu/toxic100_index/
In light of the success of its Ecomagination initiative, GE announced it would cut its water usage by 20 percent by 2012. While this is a laudable goal, GE still has many other environmental issues, such as toxic Superfund sites, which need attention.
-- GreenBiz, 06/03/2008
Source URL: greenbiz.com/node/24774
According to the nonprofit investigative journalism group the Center for Public Integrity, GE is responsible for 116 current or former Superfund sites. Superfund sites are locations designated by the Environmental Protection Agency as being so contaminated by toxic chemicals that they are dangerous to human health. Companies found responsible for Superfund sites are required to either pay for the cleanup personally, or to pay the Environmental Protection Agency to conduct the cleanup. Not only has GE been deemed solely responsible for three sites and partially responsible for another 113 sites, but at one site human exposure to dangerous chemicals is still not under control, and at two others contaminated groundwater continues to expand and contaminate other surface and subterranean water sources.
-- Center for Public Integrity, 11/19/2007
General Electric made extensive use of Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBS) in manufacturing for more than 30 years. GE also made a practice of dumping the highly persistent toxins directly into the environment, contaminating numerous locations throughout the United States. Notoriously, GE despoiled New York’s Hudson River by dumping more than 1.3 million pounds of the chemicals into the river basin. GE has reportedly spent more than $60 million dollars on campaigns to stall and spread misinformation as part of efforts to avoid cleaning up the mess it created.
-- Toxics Targeting , 11/19/2007
Source URL: www.toxicstargeting.com/ge/citizenguide.pdf
Workers’ rights group finds violations in Chinese factory where Hasbro and Disney products are made. The report released in 2007 includes violations such as “under-age workers, mandatory overtime, unsafe working conditions and managers who engaged in verbal abuse and sexual harassment.”
-- New York Times, 08/22/2007
In a move that some critics are calling "ironic," GE has announced it plans to offer the GE Money Earth Rewards Platinum MasterCard, in partnership with MasterCard, that allows users to donate one percent of purchase prices to carbon offset projects. GE will keep track of the amounts and each Earth Day will buy offsets of greenhouse gas emissions. GE will try to keep the credit card as green as possible, eschewing direct mail advertising and encouraging consumers to choose online billing over paper statements.
GE supplies parts to coal-powered plants so "its credit card offsets emissions it helped to create," according to Rainforest Action Network's executive director, Michael J.Brune. Furthermore, on the card's website there are 'tips' as to help consumers reduce their carbon footprints, such as buying energy efficient lightbulbs and appliances manufactured by GE. Some environmentalists do see such a credit card as a positive step, saying “any effort that makes it easier for consumers to address climate change is a net positive.”
-- New York Times, 07/25/2007
In early November 2006, the EPA ordered GE to supply alternative drinking water sources to several counties in the Hudson Bay area. The order was sparked by EPA’s concerns that dredging the Hudson River will stir up PCBs. The EPA also instructed GE to replace dredged areas along the shore with clean sediment. GE disputed the orders but EPA Regional Superfund Director George Pavlou has rejected GE’s arguments.
-- cnbc.com, 11/15/2006
Although GE has designed 91 nuclear power plants in 11 countries, its nuclear reactors around the world have a fatal flaw. In the event of a nuclear meltdown, there is a 90 percent chance that radiation from GE-designed reactors would be discharged directly into the atmosphere. While the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission is aware of the problem, it continues to license GE nuclear reactors.
-- Essential Information, 02/04/2001
Source URL: www.cleanupge.org/gemisdeeds.html
Ethics and Governance
According to Global Labor Strategies (GLS), major corporations including Wal-Mart, Google, Procter & Gamble, Microsoft, Nike, General Electric, and Intel are “acting through business organizations like the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai and the US-China Business Council,” to lobby against China’s Draft Labor Contract Law. This new law proposed by the Chinese government aims to secure minimal labor standards for workers, such as enforceable labor contracts, severance pay regulations and negotiating power over workplace procedures and policies. A GLS report titled: “Behind the Great Wall of China: U.S. Corporations Opposing New Rights for Chinese Workers,” notes that while the law will not eliminate labor problems in China, it is an important step in improving a system where poverty wages, lack of health and safety protections, and the absence of any legal contracts are common for Chinese workers. Organizations representing US companies have threatened to withdraw business from China if such a law is passed.
-- Global Labor Strategies, 10/13/2006
The Project for Excellence in Journalism’s “State of the News Media 2006” report found that journalism is becoming increasingly dominated by a few large corporations, continuously moving away from public interest. In the section titled “Day in the Life of the Media,” compares network TV news of ABC (owned by Disney), CBS (owned by Viacom), and NBC (owned by GE). When examining the evening newscasts, strikingly similar news stories were covered, particularly in the first 12 minutes. The report found that by the shows’ end, ABC and CBS only had one “package” that was unique to their newscasts.
-- Project for Excellence in Journalism, 01/01/2006
Source URL: www.stateofthenewsmedia.com/2006
- In response to concern…
In 2005, socially responsible shareholders filed resolutions calling for the following actions:
- In response to concerns over the safety of irradiated fuel rod storage facilities, GE shareholders asked the board of directors to report on the storage plan for irradiated fuel rods at a Callaway Plant, the associated risks, and a plan of action to minimize those risks.
- Executive compensation to be evaluated based on social responsibility and environmental achievements in addition to the financial bottom lines.
- Report on expenditures related to PCB-contaminated sites, including lobbying, expert and attorney’s fees, as well as media costs.
-- Interfaith Center for Corporate Responsibility, 12/31/2005
According to the Social Investment Research Analyst Network (SIRAN), ten years after the Federal Glass Ceiling Commission recommended disclosure of diversity data as a way to remove barriers and promote women and minority advancement, most US companies still fail to fully disclose EEO data to the public. General Electric is listed as one of the companies that does not provide full public disclosure. Rather the company only provides EEO data upon request.
-- Social Investment Research Analyst Network (SIRAN), 12/07/2005
Source URL: www.siran.org/pdfs/calltoaction.pdf
General Electric not only paid zero taxes from 2001 to 2003, but also received $9.5 million in tax breaks from the U.S. government. GE recorded almost $37 billion in profits during this two year time frame.
-- Citizens for Tax Justice, 09/01/2004
Source URL: www.ctj.org/corpfed04an.pdf
General Electric CEO, Jack Welch, faced allegations of meddling with NBC’s coverage of the 2000 election results by insisting that the channel declare an early victory for George W. Bush. GE is the parent company of NBC, and Welch is a firm supporter of President Bush and made sizeable contributions to the Bush campaign. During an investigation of the events, Welch admitted his presence at the NBC studios for the purpose of celebrating on election night, but denied any intervention in the reporting process.
Additionally, GE Energy Rentals Inc. was awarded a contract by the Army Corps of Engineers to serve as the primary power provider and maintenance authority for U.S. military bases in Bagram and Kandahar, Afghanistan. The original contract was for the amount of $5.9 million, however only six months later, the initial contract was amended several times to increase compensation by $873,623, reaching a grand total of $6,801,493.
-- Center for Public Integrity, 03/31/2004
General Electric was implicated in CorpWatch’s War Profiteers Campaign, alongside companies such as Bechtel, Lockheed Martin, Halliburton, Northrop Grumman and Boeing. War profiteers continue to reap the benefits of conflict by producing weapons and/or lining up for lucrative government contracts for various services, using their connections to secure preference. The War Profiteers Campaign exists to educate citizens on corporate ties to military and defense money, and encourages people to contact CEOs with a message that companies must end their roles as beneficiaries from weapons production and proliferation. GE was awarded $2.2 billion worth of military contracts in 2005. The company contributed $220,950 to defense-related political campaigns during the 2004 election cycle, with 50 percent going to Democrats and 50 percent to Republicans. GE’s overall campaign contributions in 2004 totaled $1.9 million.
-- CorpWatch, 01/01/2004
Source URL: www.corpwatch.org/article.php?id=7846
It was revealed in a divorce court filing by his wife that General Electric's retirement package to former CEO Jack Welch included use of the company jet, a 2003 Mercedes-Benz SLR, and tickets to Boston Red Sox games, Wimbledon tennis matches and Metropolitan Opera performances. Welch also received $9 million a year in pension. Welch, who retired in 2002, subsequently revised the retirement deal giving up $2 million a year in benefits.
-- USA Today, 07/03/2003
GE’s legacy of dangerous and illegal experiments with radiation on “captive audiences” has been the subject of intense criticism. The misdeeds committed by GE include releasing a cloud of radioactive material — estimated to contain 1000s of times more radiation than what was released at Three Mile Island — in a populated area to test how far it would travel. In 1963 GE also illegally tested the effects of radiation on prisoners who were not informed as to the full risk of the tests, and the company was criticized by Congressman Edward Markey for testing on the elderly and hospital patients who may not have met the moral or legal standards for consenting to the tests.
-- Essential Information, 06/12/2001
Source URL: www.cleanupge.org/gemisdeeds.html
In July 2003, a network of investors, environmental organizations, and public interest groups called Ceres commissioned a report called "Corporate Governance and Climate Change: Making the Connections." Written by the Investor Responsibility Research Center (IRRC), an independent firm that advises institutional investors managing more than $5 trillion in assets, the report concludes that most of America’s biggest carbon dioxide-emitting companies such as General Electric are not disclosing the financial risks posed by climate change and are failing to deal with global warming issues. The report analyzed such areas as board oversight, shareholder disclosure, executive compensation, management accountability, emissions inventories and renewable energy, while also illustrating the fundamental lack of disclosure in securities filings about climate change.
-- CERES, 03/01/2006
While General Electric has received over $2.5 billion from the federal agency known as the Export-Import Bank in direct loans and loan guarantees in the name of "job creation," the company actually reduced its US workforce from 667,000 in 1975 to 398,000 in 1995.
-- Common Dreams Newswire, 05/15/2002
Source URL: www.commondreams.org/views02/0515-09.htm
In January 2003, about 20,000 General Electric employees from the International Union of Electronic Workers/Communications Workers of America and the United Electrical Radio and Machine Workers of America picketed at plants around the country in a two day strike protesting an increase in health care co-payments. In Kentucky, a striker was struck and killed by a police car. On January 1, the company said it increased certain co-payments for employees participating in the GE Health Care Preferred plan by about $200 per employee. The company said GE's average health care cost per employee is expected to be $2,350 higher in 2003 than in 1999. Since 1999, GE's total health care costs have risen 45 percent, from $965 million to $1.4 billion in 2002, according to the company.
-- Associated Press, 01/15/2003
Ethics and Governance
According to PETA, General Electric annually proposes to kill large numbers of animals in chemical toxicity tests while ignoring existing data and public comments on its testing proposals. In 2002, GE proposed to test three different chemicals on more than 2,600 animals, some of them pregnant.
-- PETA, 01/01/2002
Source URL: www.stopanimaltests.com/feat/gta/ge.asp