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May 1989, Vol. 112, No. 5
Major collective bargaining settlements in private industry in 1988
William M. Davis
Major collective bargaining settlements were reached for 1.8 million private industry workers in 1988. The settlements specified wage adjustments averaging 2.5 percent in the first contract year and 2.4 percent a year over the contract term. These adjustments (the net effect of decisions to increase, decrease, or not change wage rates) were within the narrow range of average adjustments each year since 1982from 1.2 percent to 3.8 percent in the first contract year and 1.8 percent to 3.6 percent a year over the contract life. In contrast, from 1968 (when the Bureau of Labor Statistics initiated this series on settlements covering 1000 workers or more)1 through 1981, wage adjustments averaged from 5.8 percent to 11.9 percent in the first contract year and 5.1 percent to 8.9 percent annually over the contract life. (See table 1.)
Wage rate adjustments specified over the life of 1988 settlements were lower than in the agreements they replaced (2.4 percent, compared with 2.6 percent a year, on average). Contracts replaced in 1988 were typically negotiated in 1985 and 1986. Since 1982, wage adjustments specified over the term of contracts reached in the year were lower than in the contracts they replaced, except in 1987, when they were the same. (See table 2.)
The Bureau also measures compensation (wage and benefit costs) adjustments in settlements covering 5,000 workers or more. In 1988, compensation adjustments averaged 2.5 percent annually over the contract term. (See table 3.)
This average also is within the narrow range of 1.6 percent to 3.0 percent annual average compensation adjustments negotiated for the life of the contracts covering at least 5,000 workers each year since 1982.
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1 The major collective bargaining agreement series for private industry cover 6.0 million workers in bargaining units with at least 1,000 workers. For definition of terms, see "Current Labor Statistics" section of the Monthly Labor Review. Additional tabulations from this series appear in the March 1989 issue of Current Wage Developments, which also contains data from a similar series for State and local government.
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