Academic journal article Monthly Labor Review

Collective Bargaining in 1989: Negotiators Will Face Diverse Issues

Academic journal article Monthly Labor Review

Collective Bargaining in 1989: Negotiators Will Face Diverse Issues

Article excerpt

Agreements covering 3.1 million workers in private industry and State and local government will be on the table; talks set in communications, steel, longshore, and health care industries

William M. Davis and Fehmida Sleemi are economists in the Division of Developments in Labor-Management Relations, Bureau of Labor Statistics. Other contributors were Joan D. Borum and Phyllis I. Brown, social science research analysts, and John J. Lacombe II, Edward J. Wasilewski, and Kay Anderson, economists, in the same division.

About 3.1 million workers are under major collective bargaining agreements (those covering 1,000 workers or more) scheduled to expire or be reopened in 1989. They constitute 36 percent of the 8.6 million workers under all major agreements in private industry and State and local government.

In private industry, scheduled bargaining will cover 2.1 million of the 6.1 million workers under major agreements, or about 35 percent, compared with 38 percent in 1988 and 30 percent in 1987. In State and local government, bargaining will involve 968,000 of the 2.5 million workers under major agreements, or about 39 percent. This proportion was 42 percent in 1988 and 49 percent in 1987.

In private industry, 78 percent (1,630,000) of the workers whose contracts are slated for renegotiation in 1989 are in nonmanufacturing industries, compared with 63 percent in 1988 and 53 percent in 1987. They are concentrated in communications (534,000 workers), construction (434,000), and retail trade (240,000). Manufacturing industries with the largest number of workers under contracts slated for renewal are transportation equipment manufacturing (mainly aerospace), with 111,000 workers, and primary metals (mostly steel and aluminum production) with 107,000. (See tables 1 and 2.)

Workers covered by public sector contracts scheduled to expire or reopen in 1989 are almost equally divided between State and local governments. At the State level, half (502,000) of the 1,029,000 workers under major agreements will be covered by negotiations during the year; three-fifths of these workers are in general administration. In local government, one-third (467,000) of the 1,457,000 workers under major contracts have agreements up for renewal; three-fifths of these are in primary or secondary education.

Information on 1989 bargaining is based on data available to the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of September 30, 1988. Thus, any settlements occurring in the fourth quarter of 1988 that provide for 1989 expiration or reopening could affect the proportion of workers scheduled for negotiations in 1989. In State and local government, for example, 919,000 workers were under 228 agreements that expired by December 31, 1988, but for which settlements had not been reached or details of new settlements had not been available by September 30. Ninety percent of these workers are under contracts that expired by the end of the third quarter. In the unlikely event that all of these contracts are settled before the end of 1988 and call for termination or reopening during 1989, bargaining activity for the year in State and local government would be extremely heavy, affecting about three-fourths of the workers under major agreements. The bargaining agenda will also include negotiations that continued into 1989 on contracts that expired or reopened in 1988 or earlier. The economy

When George Bush becomes President in January, he will face mixed signals from some of the major indicators of the Nation's economic well-being, judging from data available at the time of his election. The stock market had rebounded from its low in October 1987, and unemployment remained relatively stable at about 5.5 percent during 1988. For the year ending September 1988, the price rise, as measured by the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPU-U), was 4.2 percent, and the gross national product grew about 3. …

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