The United Steelworkers and BP Plc have reached a tentative agreement covering more than 1,100 workers on local issues for workers at the company’s Whiting, Ind. refinery. The international union must still approve the agreement to ensure its provisions do not conflict with the oil industry’s national pattern agreement reached in March. The union and BP also must negotiate the process by which employees will return to work following a nearly three­month strike. The new tentative contract would remove language in previous agreements that allowed workers to strike if the union and the employer were not in agreement over a new policy that BP sought to implement, and if both parties refused to enter arbitration. The tentative agreement also provides for lump­sum payments of $4,000 in the first year of the contract and $2,000 in the second year, on top of the wage provisions contained in the national USW oil industry pattern agreement. That contract provides for wage increases of 2.5 percent in 2015, three percent in 2016, three percent in 2017 and 3.5 percent in 2018.


According to data compiled by Bloomberg BNA, average first­year wage increases reported in the first quarter of 2015 were higher than the increases reported in first quarter 2014 in all sectors except manufacturing, where the average increase was down slightly. The all­settlements average first­year wage increase under contracts negotiated in 2015 was 2.7 percent, compared with 1.6 percent reported in first­quarter 2014. Average second­ and third­year wage increases to date in 2015 were 2.2 percent and 2.3 percent, respectively, compared with 1.9 percent and 2.1 percent, respectively, reported a year ago. The median first­year wage increase for settlements reported to date in 2015 was 2.1 percent, compared with 2 percent in 2014, and the weighted average was 3.8 percent, compared with 2.8 percent.


Labour Canada reported that major collective agreements reached in Canada during February provided covered employees with average base rate wage increases of two percent, smaller than the 2.4 percent average for increases in January, but larger than the 1.5 percent average in December 2014. The February average was larger than the 1.6 percent average for settlements in the fourth quarter of 2014, and the 1.7 percent average for 2014 as a whole. Labour Canada only reports on settlements involving 500 or more employees.


More than 1,900 SEIU Chicago janitors ratified collective bargaining agreements with Chicago Public Schools. The three­year collective bargaining agreement provides wage increases, additional sick days, and enhancements to health benefits. A central feature of the agreement is two additional sick days to compensate for the loss of two school holidays eliminated by the school district. The janitors are employees of various cleaning service firms holding contracts with CPS.


New York University graduate assistants, represented by a UAW affiliate, announced that they ratified an initial labor contract, restoring their status as the nation’s only private university graduate employees covered by a collective bargaining agreement. In a 977­9 tally, members of the Graduate Student Organizing Committee (GSOC­UAW) at NYU approved a five­year deal with wage hikes totaling at least 12 percent over term and at least 90 percent of health­care premiums funded by the university.


SAG­AFTRA reached a three­year tentative agreement with producers on a contract covering actors in corporate and educational films and videos. The tentative agreement would provide a three percent increase in minimum compensation and an additional three percent increase to take effect in November 2016. Employers also would increase contributions to the union’s health and retirement funds by 0.5 percent upon ratification and by three percent in the first year. In addition, the agreement covers actors who lend their voices to Interactive Voice Recording Phone Prompt Systems (IVR), who would see first­hour compensation raised by nearly 80 percent. About 4,900 of the union’s 160,000 active members work under the corporate­educational contract in a calendar year.


SEIU members voted overwhelmingly to ratify a three­year collective bargaining agreement with nonprofit Minnesota hospital system, Allina Health, covering some 3,000 workers at eight facilities in the state. The contract provides for a minimum wage of at least $15 per hour.


Members of UNITE HERE affiliates Culinary Workers Local 226 and Bartenders Union Local 165 ratified a four­ year collective bargaining agreement with MGM Grand Las Vegas covering about 4,000 workers. The contract covers the casino­resort’s staff of porters, bellmen, guest room attendants, cocktail servers, bartenders, food servers, and cooks. The deal includes no employee healthcare premium contributions, new guidelines for housekeepers to clean “trashed” or extremely dirty hotel rooms, and a “pilot program” to help bring laid­off workers back to work when a shuttered restaurant reopens.


UFCW members in New York have ratified separate but similar 37­month contracts with the Stop & Shop Supermarket and King Kullen Grocery chains that cover more than 8,500 workers at 87 stores. The contracts provide wage increases for all covered full­time and part­time workers. Covered employees were able to maintain our current pension and medical benefits.


More than 2,200 Graduate Employees Union/United Auto Workers Local 6950 represented graduate assistants at the University of Connecticut reached a tentative three­year contract that includes a minimum 9.3 percent compound wage increase over the life of the agreement. The agreement is the first since the university’s teaching assistants and graduate assistants voted for representation. If approved, the agreement will run from July 1, 2015 through June 30, 2018.


The Illinois State Toll Highway Authority rescinded a 20­year­old project labor agreement with building trades unions, embracing a key feature of the political agenda of Gov. Bruce Rauner (R), which asserts that organized labor distorts the price of public construction projects. The board of directors of the tollway authority voted 6­3 to abandon the multi­project labor agreement. The shift is effective May 1, and will affect all future capital projects involving the agency’s 286­mile network of interstate tollways in 12 counties in northern Illinois.


The National Nurses United reached a tentative collective bargaining agreement with the University of Chicago Medical Center, averting plans for a one­day strike. The union represents some 1,550 registered nurses. The union has not provided details of the contract.