First­year wage increases in collective bargaining agreements reached in the first month of 2015 are outpacing those reported in a comparable period in 2014. According to figures compiled by Bloomberg BNA, the average first­year wage increase was 2.4 percent in contracts settled through January 26, compared to a 1.8 percent average increase last year. When lump­sum payments are included, wage increases averaged an increase of 2.9 percent compared to 2 percent in 2014. Manufacturing and construction contracts have seen the highest increases.


The United Steelworkers settled a new labor agreement with Kaiser Aluminum Corp., covering 1,200 employees in Ohio and Washington. Over the term of the five­year agreement, employees will receive a 14 percent wage increase, and Kaiser agreed maintain the current health care plan under which Kaiser pays 100 percent of premiums. Kaiser will also boost the hourly rate that it contributes to the Steepworkers Pension Trust by $0.25 in the third year of the agreement.


American Airlines Group pilots represented by the Allied Pilots Association will receive an immediate 23 percent pay increase in addition to subsequent annual raises under a newly ratified agreement. The deal joins pilots from American and U.S. Airways under the same contract for the first time following the companies’ 2013 merger. It also pushes American’s pilots base rate 7 percent higher than those at Delta Air Lines. American pilots accepted $315 million in pay cuts in connection with the carrier’s 2011 bankruptcy.


After four months of negotiations, the United Auto Workers and Navistar International Corporation tentatively settled a four­year contract covering 1,800 employees in five states. The terms of the deal are confidential pending a ratification vote set for February 8.


Although its members rejected similar deals three times, the executive board of a UFCW San Francisco local ratified a three­year labor agreement with Macys. Under the agreement, 1,200 Macys employees will receive a $0.45 per hour wage increase retroactive to June 1, 2014.


Teamsters Local 202 represented employees ratified a three­year contract with the Hunts Point Produce Market in the Bronx. Most employees will receive a 3 percent pay increase per year, while some higher­paid employees will receive smaller increases. Higher­paid employees will also be required to pay a small portion of their health care benefits.


The California Nurses Association and Kaiser Permanente agreed on a 31­month contract covering 18,000 registered nurses at Kaiser Permanente hospitals and clinics in northern and central California. Nurses will receive a 4 percent lump­sum payment, 3 percent increases in 2015 and 2016, and a 4 percent increase in 2017. Kaiser also agreed to hire 500 new nurses and to provide annual paid release time for 25 nurses per year to participate in a CNA­organized disaster relief program.


In New York City, the Realty Advisory Board and the International Union of Operating Engineers settled a contract covering the terms of 4,000 apartment and commercial building employees. The new agreement provides for 3 percent annual wage increases, and employer health care contributions will incrementally rise almost $1 per hour over the four year term of the agreement. The agreement also provides that all wage­related disputes are to be resolved through grievance and arbitration procedures.


The SEIU tentatively agreed to a contract with the state of Minnesota covering 27,000 home care workers. Details of the agreement are not available pending ratification. If ratified, the contract must be approved by Minnesota’s state legislature before it is effective.


A strike that threatened to slow production of television commercials in California was averted when the Teamsters ratified a new contract with the Association of Independent Commercial Producers.


In Canada, the average base wage rate increases for collective bargaining agreements reached in November 2014 failed to keep pace with the inflation rate in the same period. Major contracts reached in November saw an average base wage rate increase of 1.5 percent, while inflation during the same period was 2.0 percent. The largest average increase came in the public administration sector, where wage increases averaged 2.5 percent.