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January, 1988, Vol. 111, No. 2
The outlook for collective bargaining in 1988Joan D. Borumand
About 3.4 million workers are under major collective bargaining agreements (covering 1,000 workers or more) scheduled to expire or be reopened in 1988. They account for about two-fifths of the 8.7 million workers under major agreements. About seven-tenths (2.4 million) of the workers whose contracts are slated for negotiation are in private industry; the remainder are in State and local governments. (See table 1.)
In private industry, bargaining activity will be comparatively heavy this year, covering about 38 percent of the 6.3 million private industry workers under major agreements. This follows a "light" bargaining year, 1987, during which negotiations involved 30 percent of the private industry total. About 1.5 million (63 percent) of the private industry employees whose contracts are scheduled for renegotiation are in nonmanufacturing industries, including 434,000 in construction, 317,000 in railroads, 195,000 in trucking, and 192,000 in trade. Of the approximately 893,000 manufacturing workers covered by scheduled bargaining, 230,000 are in apparel industries, 160,000 in transportation equipment, and 155,000 in electrical equipment. (See tables 1 and 2.)
Information on 1988 bargaining is based on data available to the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of October 31, 1987. The proportion of workers under contracts that expire or reopen in 1988 would be higher if settlements reached during the last 2 months of 1987 result in contracts that expire or reopen during 1988. This is especially true in State and local government, where contracts often have reopening clauses. About 670,000 State and local government workers are under 203 contracts that expire before the end of 1987 and for which settlements had not been reached as of October 31. In the event that all these contracts are settled before the of 1987 and call for termination or reopening during 1988, bargaining activity for the year in State and local government would be especially heavy, involving about seven-tenths of the workers under public-sector major agreements.
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