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January, 1986, Vol. 109, No. 1
Labor and management continue
to combat mutual problems in 1985
Labor-management relations in 1985 were about the same as they have been since 1982. Wage settlements continued to be modest, because of management's pressure for restraint to aid in overcoming competitive problems. Union priorities focused on preserving jobs or aiding displaced workers. Continued moderate increases in consumer prices and employment enhanced the bargaining environment. Major collective bargaining settlements (involving 1,000 workers or more) reached in private industry during the first 9 months of the year provided for wage adjustments averaging 2.9 percent annually over the life of the contract, compared with 3.4 percent the last time the same parties negotiated, generally 2 to 3 years ago.
The competitive problems that have caused the difficulties in some industries in recent years include increasing penetration of U.S. markets by foreign competitors, aided by lower production costs and the "strong dollar" that has hindered domestic firms' ability to sell abroad; intense competition among companies in the deregulated transportation industries; and changes in production and distribution methods, and in customer preferences. All of these foreign and domestic pressures forced employers to extend their cost control measures beyond wage restraint, as they closed marginal facilities, cut employment, and adopted new technology and processes.
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1 Preliminary statistical information for all of 1985 is scheduled to be released on January 27, 1986. Both the first 9 months and full-year figures exclude possible pay adjustments under cost-of-living formulas because such adjustments are contingent on the future movement of a consumer price index.
Consumer Expenditure Survey
Consumer Price Index
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