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May 1994, Vol. 117, No. 5
Edward J. Wasilewski
L abor and management negotiators continued to restrain wage increases at the bargaining table in 1993, even as the Nation's showed signs of gradual improvement. According to data on major collective bargaining agreements covering bargaining units of 1,000 or more workers, for the second consecutive year, major settlements provided wage gains that, on average, were smaller than those specified in the contracts they replaced. (See chart 1.) In addition, the settlements in 1993 called for the lowest average wage changes since 1987. (See table 1.) Changes in compensation, covering wages and benefits, also were more modest than in recent years.
In another sign of moderate labor cost pressure, average wage changes under all major contracts in effect in 1993, including changes from recently negotiated settlements, contracts agreed upon before 1993, and the operation of cost-of-living adjustment clauses (COLA's) were the smallest since 1988.
Settlements in 1993
A total of 395 major collective bargaining settlements were negotiated in 1993; these contracts covered 2.1 million workers, or 38 percent of the 5.5 million workers under all major contracts in private industry. This was the largest proportion of workers under new agreements since 1986. (See table 2.) Nonmanufacturing industries dominated the year's bargaining calendar with settlements accounting for 62 percent (1.3 million) of all workers with new pacts. However, new contracts were set in place in a variety of industries including: petroleum refining; coal mining; aluminum, steel, automobile, and aerospace equipment manufacturing; parcel delivery service; construction; retail food stores; and utilities.
This excerpt is from an article published in the May 1994 issue of the Monthly Labor Review. The full text of the article is available in Adobe Acrobat's Portable Document Format (PDF). See How to view a PDF file for more information.
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