Related BLS programs | Related articles
January/February 1996, Vol. 119, Nos. 1 & 2
Edward Wasilewski, Jr.
About 2.4 million workers are under major collective bargaining agreements (those covering 1,000 workers or more) scheduled to expire or be reopened in 1996. These workers constitute about 30 percent of the 8.2 million employees under such agreements in private industry and State and local government. (See table 1.) In contrast, slightly more than 42 percent of workers covered by major agreements were involved in bargaining in 1995. Scheduled bargaining in 1996 will cover about than 26 percent of the 2.8 million workers union workers in private industry under 421 agreements, and 738,000 workers in State and local government under 216 agreements. The 1996 bargaining calendar is the second lightest during the last decade and follows the heaviest on record.
In private industry, bargaining is slated for 31 percent of the 5.4 million workers under major agreements, a somewhat lower proportion than in 1995 when scheduled bargaining affected 35 percent of the workers. Industries with contract expirations in 1996 include: transportation equipment manufacturing (471,000 workers); construction (322,000 workers); wholesale and retail trade (146,000 workers); and primary metals manufacturing (94,000 workers). (See table 2.)
Bargaining will be heaviest in private industry during the second and third quarters of the year, when contracts for seven-tenths of the 1.7 million workers expire or reopen. The year begins with contract expirations for marine cargo handlers and for workers at major oil refineries. (See table 3.) In the spring, the construction industry will dominate the bargaining calendar. Steel industry contracts can be reopened in August for wage and selected benefit changes, and in September, agreements expire at General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler. The year closes with the December reopening of the bituminous coal industry contract for wage and benefit discussions.
In State and local governments, slightly more than 26 percent of the 2.8 million workers under major agreements are scheduled to bargain, the lowest proportion since 1985, the first year for which the Bureau compiled these data. Fifty-six percent of State and local government workers were represented at the bargaining table in 1995, a record high. Unlike in 1995, when the nearly 1.6 million workers affected by contract negotiations were split evenly between State and local governments, this year's contract talks will involve more than twice as many local government workers as State employees. The 518,000 local government workers slated for negotiations in 1996 account for 31 percent of all local government workers under major agreements. In contrast, 20 percent (220,000) of all State employees under major agreements will be bargaining this year. Contract talks are concentrated in June, when agreements for 63 percent of the workers expire or reopen.
Information on the 1996 bargaining calendar is based on data available to the Bureau as of October 31, 1995. At that time, there were 2.5 million workers under 530 major contracts that had expired but had not been renegotiated or were scheduled to expire in November or December of 1995. The bargaining agenda will include whichever of these negotiations are carried over into 1996. In addition, any contracts ratified during November and December of 1995 that expire or reopen in 1996 will affect the number and proportion of workers slated for contract negotiations.
This excerpt is from an article published in the January/February 1996 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.
Read abstract Download full text in PDF (419K)
Within Monthly Labor Review Online:
Welcome | Current Issue | Index | Subscribe | Archives
Exit Monthly Labor Review Online:
BLS Home | Publications & Research Papers