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Union Pay Hikes Average 3.3% This Year, U.S. Says

Associated Press

First-year base wage increases excluding cost-of-living adjustments averaged 3.3% in major union contracts negotiated in the first nine months of this year, the government said Wednesday.

Including COLAs but not lump-sum bonuses prevalent in manufacturing, union workers under major contracts received effective pay increases averaging 3.5% during the past year, the Labor Department said.

The average annual increase in the new contracts falls to 2.8% over their usual two- to three-year lives, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said, indicating a return to so-called front-loaded contracts.

Most Won Increases

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Back-loaded contracts, in which the biggest increases came closer to the expiration of the accords than at their beginning, had dominated labor relations from the 1981-82 recession until last year, according to government figures.

Eighty percent of the some 1.4 million workers covered in major contracts negotiated so far in 1988 received first-year increases in their base pay, the bureau said. Eighteen percent accepted wage freezes, and 2% gave up pay concessions.

The bureau said 35% of those covered in contracts negotiated from January through September of this year received first-year wage adjustments of 2% to 4%.

Twenty-eight percent of the covered workers received base pay adjustments of 4% to 6%. Adjustments of less than 2% went to 14% of the covered workers in new contracts, while 3% received first-year adjustments greater than 6% of their base wage.

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Inflation Hedge

Including those who agreed to wage freezes or concessions in the first year of newly negotiated contracts, the average base wage increase in the first year of newly negotiated contracts was 2.5%, the government said.

The COLAs, designed to adjust wages to reflect changes in consumer prices, were introduced or reestablished for about 11%, or 161,000, of the covered workers under settlements reached so far this year.

The government said virtually all are Teamsters covered by the National Master Freight Agreement negotiated last spring. The new three-year trucking industry contract reestablish a COLA that had been suspended during the past accord.


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